here for PDF format
for participants' responses to this interview.
Candi Walz, chair, and
Sedric McClure, member,
Minnesota Citizens Redistricting Commission
8301 Creekside Circle #920, Bloomington, MN 55437
of the discussion
Verne Johnson (chair, phone), Dan Loritz (vice chair), David Broden, Janis
Clay, Pat Davies, Paul Gilje, Sallie Kemper, Tim McDonald, Clarence
Summary of discussion:
Two members of the Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC)
organized by the non-profit organization Draw the Line Minnesota argue
that the Legislature is in an impaired position to redraw the boundaries
of electoral districts. Political polarization and partisanship have
contributed to a redistricting process that is not in citizens' best
interests and inevitably ends up in the court system for a solution.
advocate instead involving a broad array of citizens in the process and
disallowing the inherent conflict of interest in incumbent legislators'
drawing the lines of the districts in which they will run. They call for
districts that are more representative of characteristics of the state's
population and that are drawn by the people living in those districts.
Using this process they have developed a redistricting proposal that they
have presented to the judicial panel now in charge of redrawing district
boundaries. They hope the process they have undertaken this year will
prove to be a model for redistricting reform after the next Census is
taken in 2020.
Welcome and introductions
Candi Walz is an adjunct professor of political science at
College and owner of Let's Talk Kids, LLC. She has been a state capitol
reporter and worked in government relations for the
State Colleges and Universities and for the Minnesota State College
is a multicultural counselor in Student and Academic Affairs at Macalester
College and has worked in multicultural settings in higher education for
Minnesota Citizens Redistricting Commission is a project of Draw the
Line Minnesota, an initiative of the Midwest Democracy Network. There are
four members of the network: Common Cause
League of Women Voters Minnesota, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, and
Take Action Minnesota.
completion of the 2010 census, as the redistricting process began, the
member groups of Draw the Line Minnesota identified a need to engage
citizens in the process of redrawing district lines. They created the
Citizens Redistricting Commission and called for nominations and
appointments. A person could self-nominate but had to have a
Commission members are identified here:
commission's final report, including a copy of the map may be found here:
2011 the DFL Governor vetoed a bill enacted by the GOP Legislature
redrawing legislative and congressional districts to be effective with
elections in 2012. Redistricting is required every 10 years following the
decennial census. In light of the inability of the Governor and
Legislature to agree, the Minnesota Supreme Court, upon petition from
citizens, assigned a five-person judicial panel to redraw boundaries. The
court's redistricting plan is expected in February. The Walz-McClure
commission submitted its plan to the judicial panel.
the Civic Caucus recommended that a commission be established by law to
redraw legislative and congressional districts. See:
THE PROBLEM: The redistricting process is partisan and results in
said that as a political science professor she asks her students each week
to tackle a state problem and act as a committee to propose a possible
solution. The problem here is that for decades the Legislature and
governor have not been able to agree on a redistricting plan. Instead the
process is polarized, very political, and does not lead to accurate
representation in the legislature of the diversity of
Nor does the process involve perspective of citizens outside the
Legislature. For these reasons it is not an effective process, the
speakers said, and, for the past four decades, has resulted in the
intervention of the court system.
THE GOAL: The redistricting process needs to be more inclusive and result
in better representation.
said that the goal of Draw the Line Minnesota is to have the redistricting
process work for more of the people of Minnesota. They believe that
priority should be placed on two key goals: first, focus on ensuring that
district maps represent all communities of interest, not just those within
political boundaries (e.g. cities and counties); and, second, demonstrate
that citizens can and should play a substantive role in Minnesota's
future, official redistricting processes.
inherently political process," he said. In addition to partisan conflict
the people in legislative process are seeking job security, and those on
the fringes are trying to push their way in.
an easy process to remake, McClure and Walz agreed, because there are so
many competing interests. The commission sought an effective alternative
that would both inform the courts about this year's maps and be a model
for reforming the redistricting process in the future.
THE SOLUTION: The citizens commission model provides a fair, open and
Citizens Redistricting Commission held its first all-day meeting in July
of this year. That meeting included training on the legal requirements of
redistricting, compliance with the Voting Rights Act, and the process for
Beginning in August the commission members conducted hearings in each of
Minnesota's eight congressional districts. They discussed the
redistricting process with citizens and documented citizens' input. These
discussions informed a set of four principles that the commission
developed to guide its map-making process, and that it hoped would help
inform the judicial panel's principles.
commission then met in the fall to review the feedback, establish criteria
for drawing a map, and draft an initial redistricting map before visiting
each of the congressional districts again. A GIS (geographic information
systems) specialist was then hired to draw a final draft map of new
district lines, incorporating feedback from the public meetings and the
Commission's established principles. The purpose of this map was to offer
one potential illustration of the Commission's principles to the judicial
Four principles informed the creation of the CRC map.
speakers said that four themes emerged from the commission's discussions
with citizens throughout the state. They are, in order of priority:
Preserve communities of interest,
including but not limited to cities, counties, towns, sovereign
entities, school districts, demographics, transportation corridors, and
regional economic patterns.
Ensure fair and
non-diluting minority representation.
Do not intentionally
protect or defeat incumbents.
Create compact districts.
Minnesotans voiced a desire to see the state's Congressional and
legislative districts as compact as possible to ensure proper access to
commission settled on these four principles before bringing in the GIS
specialist to draw a map based on them.
Maintaining communities of interest trumps competitiveness.
speakers said they found as they listened to comments in hearings around
the state that preserving communities of interest was the commission's top
priority. People that live in the rural communities outside of a city like
Willmar, for example, or Winona or Rochester, felt that the representation
was centered in the cities and exclusive of townships or regions further
out in the counties.
people felt they were not being fully represented due to the way districts
are currently divided-therefore, districts need to be better drawn to
ensure that rural residents and their communities had a distinct voice.
The speakers agreed but observed that some demographic and/or
socioeconomic groups, like elderly, affluent families, or ethnic
communities often live together and also share political tendencies like
leaning Democrat or Republican-so competitiveness is not always possible.
And, equally important for the Commission, forcing political
competitiveness in these communities could require breaking apart these
social and demographic communities of interest - an idea that ran counter
to its most important principle. As a result, the commission decided to
forgo prioritizing political competitiveness in its principles.
commission had considered how to get all people who want to run for
Congress and/or the legislature to enter races. "The state currently has
six people of color serving in the legislature," Walz said, "but if it
there were proportional to the demographics of the state, just based on
representation that number would be 36. The commission sought ways to make
more opportunity districts for members of minority communities, as well."
question arose about how best to define a community of interest, a
participant noted that in
the definition is based on ethnicity, language, and socio-economic status.
These traits have been used to assemble districts that are close together,
with equal population, and with significant neighborhood cohesion.
The commission process led to ideas for further improvement.
speakers said that they are unsure about an ideal number of members for a
commission like this, but it is important to be representative and diverse
to reflect the state.
more work that could be done. "It would be interesting to put maps up on
transparencies and see where the commonalities are among competing plans
before the judicial panel," Walz said, "and incorporate those
commonalities in the final map as well."
were constraints on timeline and funding this time around. In the future
it may be beneficial to start a commission's work a full year in advance.
However, even given the limitations of the process, Walz and McClure said,
they think it's important that citizens have a voice in the process.
Where does redistricting go from here?
intention of the citizens' commission was to see how the process could be
done through a citizen-led design, and if it could work in the future.
Mondale and Arne Carlson have called for an independent commission
comprised of retired judges that would draw a map and send it to the
legislature to vote up or down. The Citizens Commission has not endorsed
that proposal, but would like to see citizens involved in any future
if you have citizens involved in coming up with a redistricting plan, and
the legislators can vote on that proposal, you've got a good balance,"
submitting their plan to the judicial panel, the Commission requested that
the judges solicit community input during their deliberations and allow
citizens to give input on the final map. "We didn't have time for this and
we think our map and all maps stand to benefit from additional citizen
input," Walz said.
Presently there are no plans for a standing panel for redistricting, given
the duration between censuses and the subsequent redrawing of boundaries.
critical to get this right because decisions made in redistricting last
ten years," Walz said. "As we all know, if a bad law is passed, it can be
amended next year. A politician not responding to constituents can be
voted out in two years but redistricting lasts a decade. It's imperative
we get it right."
chair thanked the speakers for a very informative visit.