The committee tasked with redrawing district lines in ND is wrapping up. Soon, their proposal will be introduced to the full legislative assembly in a November special session. Though not perfect, their initial proposal appears to be more focused on county and other geographic lines than incumbent protection. Let’s make sure they keep it that way as self-interested political organizations attempt to offer amendments.

At the beginning of the process, committee members claimed they’d stick with certain principles. County lines, major roadways, and communities of like interests would guide their map-making. Refreshing to hear following the 2011 redistricting process where then-House Majority Leader Al Carlson proudly declared his new map would solely benefit Republicans. “This is a Republican plan for the next 10 years. Those new districts should be Republican, and I believe they’re very Republican. There should be six new Republican members (of the Legislature) as we go into the next election cycle.” Al Carlson told people in 2011.

Already, incumbent legislators are howling about unfairness. Not unfairness for their constituents, but for their own jobs. Apparently, some of those who claim that government is so terrible are now desperate to remain a part of it. In fact, some of them care so much about keeping their part-time legislator status, they offered a ridiculous map riddled with gerrymandering to protect themselves. Enter District 26 Republicans Jason Heitkamp, Sebastian Ertelt, and Kathy Skroch.

The District 26 NDGOP delegation claim they’re being “disenfranchised” in this process and offered the above map. Note the their map disregards keeping counties and communities of like interests within one district as best as possible. To be blunt, their map lacks seriousness, but screams of insecurity from those who offered it. It is quite clear they don’t believe they will win potential primary elections in the new District 25 as proposed in the committee map.

Why try to adhere to county lines as new lines are drawn? Counties administer the elections. It simplifies the auditor’s job in November. It also allows the county commissions to work with one legislative delegation to better represent them at the state level. Bottom line, it is common sense and can lead to better government.

The reality is, those screaming the loudest – whether in whining public letters to the editor or repeated desperate phone calls to committee members – aren’t looking out for the interests of their neighbors. They’re looking out for their self-interests. It isn’t about representation and good public service for them. It is about ego and job security.

Tyler Axness
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