New legislative districts for Bismarck, FargoBISMARCK (AP) — Lawmakers on Wednesday endorsed a plan to redraw the boundaries of the North Dakota Legislature’s 47 districts, giving new districts to Fargo and Bismarck while eliminating two rural districts in the state’s north-central and northeastern regions.
BISMARCK (AP) — Lawmakers on Wednesday endorsed a plan to redraw the boundaries of the North Dakota Legislature’s 47 districts, giving new districts to Fargo and Bismarck while eliminating two rural districts in the state’s north-central and northeastern regions.
The proposal, which the Legislature will debate when it begins its special session Nov. 7, leaves five districts with a surplus of lawmakers, giving them the choice of retiring or running against a colleague to keep his or her job.
A GOP-controlled redistricting committee, headed by Sen. Raymon Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, has been crafting the plan since June.
The committee finished its work Wednesday after rejecting an alternative plan offered by the panel’s minority Democrats. Republicans hold two-thirds majorities in the North Dakota House and Senate, and the committee had 12 Republicans and four Democrats.
“We wanted to do a much better job of keeping counties whole and keeping them together, and I think we did very well there,” Holmberg said. “And I think we put together a plan that, on the face of it, looks like it could withstand any kind of court challenge that might come forth.”
One of the newly fashioned districts, No. 6, puts the North Dakota Senate’s Democratic leader, Sen. Ryan Taylor of Towner, into the same district with his predecessor as leader, Sen. David O’Connell of Lansford.
Another new district, No. 10, in North Dakota’s northeastern corner, now includes two Republicans senators: Sens. Joe Miller of Park River, and Curtis Olafson of Edinburg.
Because each district can be represented by only one senator and two House members, any new district with extra incumbents will have to reduce its representation in the 2012 elections, either through retirements, intraparty primaries or general election fights.
Taylor argued that the Democratic redistricting plan was more compact and logical than the proposal that Republicans favored.
For example, a newly created Bismarck district, which wraps around the north and east sides of the city, “looks like a fishhook,” Taylor said. “There are some really weird-looking districts in Bismarck.”
Taylor said he believed that the process showed the need to give the job of redistricting to an independent commission, a proposal that Democrats have introduced without success in the Legislature.
“For me, looking at it, obviously, it can be personal when my district is disappeared. But it’s really not about that,” Taylor said. “These aren’t our districts as legislators ... it’s really the voters’ districts, and you try to make something that makes sense for the people that vote, and give them faith in their government.”
Three other districts that have a “surplus” of legislators include No. 4, No. 14 and No. 19.