Officials in Iowa’s two largest counties have been forced to come up with new maps for the districts county supervisors will represent.
The sticking point has been over how much representation to give the cities of Des Moines and Cedar Rapids in elections for seats on the Boards of Supervisors in Polk and Linn Counties. The secretary of state has said cities may be split into no more than three districts. Linn County Supervisor Ben Rogers says that likely means only one of the five Linn County supervisors will live in a rural area.
“There’d be three Linn County supervisors who only have Cedar Rapids precincts. Another supervisor would have Marion, plus a very little bit of rural,” Rogers says, “which would leave the fifth supervisor district to encompass every rural part of Linn County.”
The districts for county supervisors are to be redrawn every decade, after the Census, and the goal is have the number of voters in each district be as close as possible. Rogers says this ruling from the secretary of state’s office on the more-limited way of splitting up city precincts means rural residents in Linn County will have less representation on the Board of Supervisors.
“That large, rural district would literally look like a three-quarter-shaped donut around Linn County,” Rogers says.
Republicans also charge that on the first redistricting plan, Democrats in Polk County tried to “gerrymander” by tossing an incumbent Republican supervisor in the same district with an incumbent Democrat. A second map for Polk County forces the same match-up of incumbents, while meeting the secretary of state’s requirement that Des Moines precincts be divided into no more than three of the five districts.
Democrats, meanwhile, charge Secretary of State Matt Schultz, a Republican, is rejecting the maps for the two counties in an attempt to “gerrymander” in Republicans’ favor.