Nov 22, 2021 - Politics
Iowa's next redistricting battle will be local
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

This year’s redistricting saga isn’t over: Iowa officials are now gearing up to redraw precinct and ward boundaries for school, city and county seats.

Why it matters: Even minor boundary changes can lead to leadership shakeups.

  • Example: Polk County Supervisor Tom Hockensmith represented a different district prior to the last redistricting a decade ago.

Driving the news: This is the first redistricting cycle since Republican lawmakers changed Iowa law three years ago and removed much of the power of county-appointed commissions to draw maps for supervisor seats.

  • The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency (LSA) now handles the process for the 39 Iowa counties that require voters to choose a candidate who lives in their district. (Other counties elect supervisors via at-large votes.)

Between the lines: It’s a power play.

  • Republicans like Rep. Zach Nunn of Bondurant in 2018 argued the old process was "corrupt, corrosive and clearly illegitimate."
  • Democrats said the change infringed on local control to dilute their influence.

State of play: Democratic supervisors are narrowly in the majority in the state’s two largest counties (Polk, 3-2; Linn, 2-1).

  • Both use an election plan that requires the LSA to draw its new boundaries.

What’s next: Local governments still draw boundaries for precincts, council and school board districts.

  • Polk County last week appointed a five-member panel to review unincorporated precinct boundaries.
  • Des Moines has tentatively scheduled a special City Council meeting to address redistricting on Nov. 30, city spokesman Al Setka told Axios last week.

Of note: Cities have 60 days and counties have 90 to complete maps after Iowa approved its new congressional and legislative districts on Nov. 4.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Des Moines.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Des Moines stories

No stories could be found

Des Moinespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Des Moines.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more