DES MOINES, Iowa — In many circles, Iowa is the national gold standard when it comes to legislative and congressional boundary redistricting. It occurs every ten years and is based off census data. On Monday, the public had a chance to weigh in. Even though there were just five public speakers, one request was made clear from all of them.
“I believe Iowa has always had fair redistricting policies in the past and I’d like to keep the politics out of it, stick with the way we’ve done redistricting in the past,” said Iowa voter Elizabeth Ahrens.
State lawmakers received their first look at the proposal last Thursday. On Monday, the Iowa Temporary Redistricting Advisory Committee held the first virtual meeting to hear concerns from the public with two more following Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m.
The new proposal could especially draw criticism in the Iowa House of Representatives for putting same-party incumbents of different districts with one another.
Current District 35 Representative Ako Abdul-Samad of Des Moines and fellow Democrat in District 36 Representative Marti Anderson would both be placed in the proposed House District 37. The same goes for current Republican Representatives Brian Best in House District 12, Ray Sorensen of District 20 and Phil Thompson of District 47. All three are proposed to be placed in the new District 13 covering Adair, Guthrie, Greene and part of Carroll counties. It’s something Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate says could be one item the commission looks at closely.
“To be very candid, I think there are over 50 legislators, both Republican and Democrats, who are thrown into the same district. That’s a pretty high number. I served in the Senate during redistricting and we had about ten, so that’s a big jump. I think they will probably look at that one and see if it is a fair way to approach it too,” said Pate.
Gov. Kim Reynolds has scheduled a special session Oct. 5 to vote and approve the redistricting proposal with an Iowa Supreme Court deadline on the decision by Dec. 1, 2021. Once approved, the new districts take effect for the 2022 election cycle.