On Nov. 2, voters in Blue Earth are going to make a variety of choices as they mark their ballots for many state, county, school district and local candidates.
They will decide on which of nine candidates for four open seats on the City Council will be elected.
They will also have another big decision to make.
On the ballot will be the question of whether to keep the current three-ward system in place, or eliminate it, and have all city councilmen elected at large.
As a front page story in this week’s Register details, the question carries ramifications on a county level.
Currently, the county uses the three wards to slice up the county into five equally-populated county commissioner districts.
It wasn’t always so.
Back in the 1980s, the City of Blue Earth was its own county commissioner district. It may be so again, if the wards disappear and redistricting occurs.
Commissioner John Roper wants to keep the districts as they are, with Blue Earth having two commissioners on the board. Redistricting, he says, will automatically mean Blue Earth will have just one commissioner.
Actually, with the way the districts are currently in place, the City of Blue Earth, just like the other 10 cities in the county, could wind up without a commissioner who does not live within the city limits.
That is because both sections of Blue Earth are part of commissioner districts which also are composed of other towns or townships.
So, if we want to get technical, the commissioner from District 1 could live in Elmore or Frost or Rome, Elmore, Emerald or Blue Earth township (and not the City of Blue Earth), and the commissioner from District 2 could live in Pilot Grove, Verona or Jo Daviess township.
Admittedly, most of the voters are clustered in Blue Earth, but if candidates from outside the city are running for office and no one from the city is on the ballot, Blue Earth could be without representation.
Is that a big deal?
Some think so.
The other twist is that if the city had placed wording on the ballot question that said the wards be eliminated, but that three ‘voting precincts’ be preserved, it would be possible to still split the City of Blue Earth with some voting precincts going to one commissioner district, and other precincts to another district.
Confused? You are not the only one.
Next comes the fact that even if the voters in Blue Earth decide to keep the ward system in place as it currently is, the county may still be forced to redistrict because of a change in population according to the recent census.
So, the county might have to make Blue Earth one commissioner district unto itself, no matter how the ward vote goes, anyway.
Should this make a difference when Blue Earth residents head to the polls to vote? Commissioner Roper thinks so.
Others, however, may feel it is unfair for Blue Earth to have two commissioners on the board, since no other city has the same opportunity.
Either way, it is important to vote how you feel. After the election is over, it will be too late.