City Clerk Geistler,
Please see that my comments reach the elected body and staff working on redistricting.
Mayor Norton & Councilmembers;
I wanted to thank you all for some solid work on redistricting. How we draw districts is fundamental to democracy. The maps that the City of Rochester drew are fair & reasonable. It appears there are only a couple of neighborhoods that are divided including my own. That said, the neighborhood integrity of this map is very good overall. I am especially impressed that you are taking in account growth patterns and starting a couple of districts slightly smaller, fully understanding these areas will outgrow the rest of Rochester. I also appreciate the minority opportunity districts. I also commend you on accepting public comments in a way Olmsted County thus far has not. You are on the right side of history.
I do have one logistical request. Please ask the question of staff as to whether the city precincts are sufficiently small such that Olmsted County will not have to unnecessarily subdivide the city more than is practically necessary. The size of our city is now such that 5 full districts should be located entirely within the city of Rochester. A 6th district should be partially in the City of Rochester. Because the city of Rochester is more diverse and has lower average incomes than the far more white & wealthy surrounding areas it is important that we not allow a situation where the justified votes of the people of Rochester are artificially diluted by any potential Olmsted County gerrymandering. This is a realistic concern as the former planning director Phil Wheeler has spoken to how this was done to inflate rural dominated seats in 2011 and manipulate who would have to stand for election in 2012. While the City of Rochester at that point did not have the population to expect 5 full districts at that time, we now do.
Councilmember Palmer, you specifically told me how hard you would fight to make sure the County did not gerrymander their districts so as to unnecessarily subdivide the City of Rochester. I am counting on you to both keep your word and be a leader on this issue.