Letter: Reapportionment should not be in North Dakota legislators’ hands
When the North Dakota Legislature meets in November to reapportion legislative districts, we should all be concerned what the final product will be.
There are many of us who believe that reapportionment should never be in the hands of legislators who may have their own special interests to protect.
A special group made up of unbiased non-partisan citizens knowledgeable to redistricting rules should be appointed to determine legislative boundaries. In fact, legislative bills have been introduced in the past that would do so but legislators have jealously protected their own authority. Consequently, we have to deal with the system we have.
In the short time left before the session, legislators should hold meetings in every one of their respective districts to inform the public what they are planning and to bring maps and share all information they have and gather public input.
I live in District 4, which is made up of part of six counties with no county seat in the district. Legislative rules say no district should be split by the Missouri River, which in itself appears illegal since Dunn and Mountrail counties are on opposite sides of the Missouri River. At least the spirit of the law has been violated.
In my opinion, Dunn and McKenzie counties and portions of another county should make up a district to meet population guidelines. This would also benefit District 39 which comprises a huge selection of southwest North Dakota.
I also believe the argument that the western counties like Dunn have lost population flies in the face of what is actually happening. Every livable house is occupied in Dunn County. Hundreds of trailer houses have been brought in.
I don’t know how many of the people moving in can be counted for population, but the 2010 census figures can surely be doubted.
Instead of creating larger districts, the Legislature should create more districts to allow more public participation. No doubt the people moving in will be here for years to come and have the right to be represented. North Dakota law allows for 53 districts as I understand.
Again, I would urge the legislators to hold public meetings in their districts to allow for public input on legislative changes.
Randolph Nodland, Dunn Center