County redistricting plan approved

The redistricting plan adopted by Mille Lacs County commissioners at their April 17 meeting means that none of them will have to run against an incumbent commissioner next fall.

Commissioners, with no comment from the public at a hearing during the meeting, adopted Plan E among the five plans that had been proposed by Auditor-Treasurer Phil Thompson.

The biggest change will be that Isle and Onamia will now be in the same district.

Onamia is the third-largest city in the county, Isle the fourth-largest. Both will now be in District 5, Onamia moving from District 4.

Princeton, with a population of 4,468, that grew 18.5 percent from 2000 to 2010, will remain as the sole entity in District 1 where board chair Jack Edmonds is the commissioner.

District 2, where Dan Whitcomb is a first-term commissioner, will lose the city of Foreston (population 533) but retain the city of Pease (242) and the townships of Princeton, Greenbush and Milo.

Princeton Township, at 2,256,  has the largest population of any township in the county.

Phil Peterson is commissioner in District 3 that will include the city of Milaca (2,946), Milaca Township (1,617) and now the city of Foreston.

District 4, where
Roger Tellinghuisen is commissioner, includes the townships of Borgholm, Bogus Brook, Page (moved from District 3), Hayland, Mudgett, Dailey, Bradbury, Onamia and Lewis, and the city of Bock.

Borgholm, north and east of Milaca, is the largest township (1,718) in that district.

Onamia goes from District 4 to District 5 where Frank Courteau is commissioner.

That district also includes four townships – Kathio, South Harbor, Isle Harbor and East Side – that border Mille Lacs Lake, as do the included cities of Isle and Wahkon.

The largest township in that district is Kathio (1,627) which runs along the south and east side of the lake.

The redistricting approval, required by law every 10 years to balance population shifts, means that now all five commissioner positions will be up for election this fall.

The four-year terms of Edmonds, Peterson and Courteau were all scheduled to be on the ballot in November and now the terms of Whitcomb and Tellinghuisen, who are both  in their second year of four-year terms, will also be open because of a population shift of more than five percent in a district.

Edmonds, Whitcomb, Peterson and Tellinghuisen have all indicated that they intend to seek re-election but Courteau told the Mille Lacs County Times Monday that he is leaning towards not running.

The population of Mille Lacs County increased about 16.5 percent from an estimate of 22,330 in 2002 to 26,008 in 2010.