The La Crosse County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve its new redistricting plan on Monday evening, which adds a 30th supervisor to the board starting next spring.
The unusually condensed decennial redistricting process now comes to an end at the county level, and the new map was approved after a short public hearing and no debate from supervisors.
“It was significantly different this year,” said La Crosse County Clerk Ginny Dankmeyer. “Every municipality, the zoning staff, the county staff — everyone gave it due diligence and put everything we had to make sure that we came up with the best maps possible.”
Officials have largely considered the maps to be the best redrawing of the electoral districts given the short timeline they were given. But there has been some pushback, mainly over the boundaries created in the city of La Crosse that would displace three current La Crosse County Common Council members.
Council member Chris Kahlow, who is among those facing possible displacement, spoke at Monday’s public hearing. She said the process was not fair to the city of La Crosse, a continuation of concerns she shared at a city meeting last week.
“It appears to me that the [county] Redistricting Committee makeup did not have a very fair representation of city of La Crosse residents or elected officials. And while I’m sure that was unintentional, some of the consequences that resulted may be felt for a long time,” Kahlow said.
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At least four of the 14 members of the county’s Redistricting Committee were city of La Crosse residents.
The city’s clerk was also a member, as well as a member of the La Crosse Board of Education and two supervisors who reside in the city.
“In my district — and I know this is on a micro level — is that the map fragments the neighborhood of my district and it splits communities within that neighborhood into different districts. And I think it’s just really important that those things are known and heard of and people are represented fairly in that way,” she said.
“I understand the compressed nature of this cycle and everyone did their best and we’re all just trying to do our best,” Kahlow said.
“If any of you are here in 10 more years when we do this again, I hope that the city of La Crosse will have a little more representation on that committee, maybe an elected council member or the mayor or two or a neighborhood association chair or representative,” she said.
La Crosse County’s current 29th District in the town of Shelby will be renamed the new 30th District, and the remaining districts have been shifted to make room for the addition.
Some of the biggest changes have been made in the eastern, more rural parts of the county, where districts have been broken up.
The towns of Burns, Farmington and Holland now share more of district than before in the northeast, and what was formerly District 27 is now District 29 and has been slimmed down, no longer including the town of Washington or village of West Salem in its boundaries.
District 28 has been slimmed and stretched further north to reach into the town of Hamilton, and District 21 has expanded to cover more of the northwest border of the county.
The village of West Salem will still be split between two districts but they will be more contained in the boundary of the village than before.
In Holmen, District 22 has been elongated a bit and District 24 has been shrunken and shifted more west to now include parts of the village, as well as the towns of Onalaska and Hamilton.
The city of Onalaska is still split among several districts, and the city of La Crosse will still keep 13 districts, though the boundaries of the districts have been altered a bit to account for population growth in certain areas.
To look at it a different way, the resolution adopting the new map lays out which municipalities each district encompasses:
- Districts 1-13 — city of La Crosse
- District 14 — town of Campbell
- District 15 — city and town of Onalaska
- Districts 16-17 — city of Onalaska
- District 18 — city of Onalaska, town of Medary
- District 19 — city and town of Onalaska
- District 20 — village of Holmen, town of Onalaska
- District 21 — towns of Campbell, Onalaska and Holland, village of Holmen
- District 22 — village of Holmen
- District 23 — village of Holmen, town of Holland
- District 24 — towns of Onalaska and Hamilton, village of Holmen
- District 25 — towns of Farmington, Holland, Hamilton and Burns
- District 26 — village of West Salem
- District 27 — towns of Bangor, Burns, Hamilton and Washington, villages of Bangor and Rockland
- District 28 — village of West Salem, towns of Barre, Hamilton and Medary
- District 29 — towns of Barre, Greenfield and Shelby
- District 30 — town of Shelby
No county supervisors will be displaced by this new map, but four of them will have renumbered districts. Dankmeyer said this won’t impact how these incumbents run for re-election, only the title of their districts.
One other public speaker, a University of Wisconsin-La Crosse student and redistricting advocate stated that it was hard to give support to the map because it was difficult to read and asked that more street-level information be given.
The new map will officially go into effect for the April 2022 election.
This story was updated on Nov. 9 to provide more details about the new map.