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Randy Erickson: Feehan confused about redistricting fairness

I was puzzled by Bill Feehan's recent letter to the editor asserting that county redistricting disenfranchised voters. He was at Tuesday's meeting of the La Crosse County Redistricting Committee, on which I serve, but he arrived late. In case he missed the discussion that cleared up his misconception about an "added district," I’ll revisit it. 

Six maps were drawn by county staff members, three with 29 county board members as we have now and three with 30, which was a better way to ensure that each district would come as close as possible to containing the same population. With 30 districts, La Crosse has an average of 4,052 residents while non-city districts average 4,006.

On all three 30-member maps, the highest numbered district includes the town of Shelby. Staff made clear the reason that Shelby district was the highest number was they worked first on city of La Crosse districts, then redrew and renumbered districts starting from the north and west of La Crosse and proceeding clockwise until reaching the southwest corner.

The 30th District would be in the town of Campbell if they had worked counterclockwise instead.

The highest numbered district is not an added district. The “30” could go on any of the districts, but staff wanted to keep incumbents' district numbers the same if possible, to eliminate voter confusion. They could have put “30” on a Holmen district, but it would have seemed weird with surrounding districts ranging from 21 to 24.

All districts change to some extent in this redistricting. The one district that has no current incumbent is the 25th, an expansive district that includes territory in the towns of Holland, Farmington, and Burns. If any district was considered “added,” that should be it, but in reality they are all new districts.

Randy Erickson

La Crosse

12th District, La Crosse County Board.

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