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Moving the stakes: Redistricting shifts Hubbard County's representation

Hubbard County's legislative and congressional delegates comment on the reshuffling of district boundaries that go into effect this election year.

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8th Congressional District boundaries - old and new
Gary Meader / Duluth News Tribune

Thanks to redistricting based on 2020 U.S. Census results, Hubbard County voters belong to different congressional and legislative districts.

The maps set the new boundaries for Minnesota's eight Congressional districts, 67 Senate districts and 134 House districts, and will be in effect for the 2022 elections.

New Senate, House districts

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Hubbard County is split between Senate Districts 2 (light blue) and 5 (dark yellow). The new House districts are 2B for the northern part of the county and 5A for the south. The county is also divided between Congressional Districts 7 and 8, shown here by the thick gray line.
Map courtesy of the Legislative Coordinating Commission

According to the redistricting map released Feb. 15 by a panel of five judges, the upper third of Hubbard County is now in Senate District 2 and House District 2B, while the southern two-thirds are in Senate Dist. 5 and State House Dist. 5A.

Previously, the area was mostly within State Senate Dist. 2, with parts of the county in House Districts 2A and 2B.

“There is a lot that goes into redrawing the lines after a census, but the way the maps turned out was a real surprise,” said State Sen. Paul Utke (R-Park Rapids). “Many of the districts across the state received major changes, which resulted in a number of member pairings.”

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Utke and State Sen. Justin Eichorn (R-Grand Rapids, Dist. 5) will each have to run for re-election in a different district – Districts 5 and 6, respectively.

“I have enjoyed working with and representing the citizens of Senate Dist. 2 the past two terms,” said Utke. “I have met a lot of great people that have turned into good friends, but now I will be running for re-election to represent some new areas of our great state. … I look forward to meeting and working with the citizens of the new Senate Dist. 5.”

State Reps. Steve Green (R-Fosston, District 2B), Matt Grossell (R-Clearbrook, District 2A) and Matt Bliss (R-Pennington, District 5A) will face similar challenges.

Green announced his intent to run for senate in the newly created Senate District 2 on Feb. 22. The district includes parts of Becker, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Itasca, Lake of the Woods and Mahnomen counties.

“It’s been a privilege to serve in the House of Representatives, and I’m grateful for the people I’ve met and worked with while in the House,” he said.

Green is in his fifth term in the House.

In a comment to the Enterprise, Green said, “The map looks still good. It’s different, but they’re always gonna be different … but that’s our system, and it’s a good system. Population changes, you change the map. And I think it’s also probably a good idea to change up the areas once in a while, anyway.”

Green noted that his bid for the State Senate will leave House seat 5A open, meaning the Park Rapids area will definitely have a new state representative. “It’s still a good district,” he said, “and I think that the representation that you’re gonna get is gonna be fine.”

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Krista Knudsen, mayor of Lake Shore and local restaurant owner, announced Tuesday she will run for District 5A. Knudsen was elected Mayor in 2020, previously serving on the Lake Shore City Council.

Bliss announced Feb. 22 that he will run for re-election in the new Dist. 2B, which includes the cities of Bagley, Blackduck, Cass Lake, Deer River, Mahnomen and Walker.

Grossell commented, “I am remaining in District 2A. … A district line will never determine who or what I fight for. The answer remains the same: I will fight for the people of Minnesota and your right to live a safe and free life.”

Welcome to Districts 7 and 8

The southern one-third of Hubbard County is now part of Congressional District 7, while the upper two-thirds is in Congressional District 8.

Before Feb. 15, Ernest Joseph Oppegaard-Peltier III, 33, of Bemidji, had been a candidate for northwestern Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District.

But then, at noon that day, new congressional boundaries for the state were released, with the western end of the 8th Congressional District pushing farther west to include Oppegaard-Peltier’s residence.

Now, Oppegaard-Peltier is running for the 8th District seat as a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party, Federal Election Commission filings show.

Oppegaard-Peltier, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in North Dakota, believes he is best suited to represent a district that includes all seven of Minnesota Anishinaabe reservations.

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In the race, he joins incumbent Republican Congressman Pete Stauber of Hermantown.

The redrawn lines also mean DFLer Reed Olson, of Bemidji, who had been running for Congress in the 7th District as a Democrat, now finds himself living in the 8th District.

Olson, a Beltrami County commissioner, told KAXE radio that it would take time to decide whether he'll run in the new district or not.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-Minn.), representative for the Minnesota 7th Congressional District, announced the start of her re-election campaign to win a second term in Washington, D.C.

In a statement from her campaign team, Fischbach said, “It is very sad that I will not represent the people of Beltrami, Lake of the Woods, Clearwater, Mahnomen and portions of Becker County anymore. But I will continue to represent them the remainder of this year and know that Congressman Stauber will do a great job for them in 2023 and beyond.”

Fischbach added, “I am very excited to be adding the people of Wadena, Morrison and southern Hubbard County to the 7th district. I know Congressman Stauber has represented them well, and I look forward to continuing to make sure their values and interests are represented in Congress."

Stauber said, “It has been an honor to serve the current constituents of Minnesota’s 8th District, but while I am disappointed that some of Hubbard County including Park Rapids will become a part of another district, I look forward to continuing to serve them in the coming months.”

Stauber has out-fundraised the other candidates by a substantial amount, with $1.3 million raised in 2021 and $818,000 cash on hand at the end of the year, according to Federal Elections Commission data. Reed raised almost $46,000 last year, while Oppegaard-Peltier raised almost $9,400.

Jimmy Lovrien of the Duluth News Tribune contributed to this article

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