Bolin, Dennert redistricting plans received most of the public’s support at Sioux Falls meeting

Capitol News Bureau

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Testimony tracked along two paths at the legislative redistricting meeting Wednesday afternoon at Community College for Sioux Falls.

One was a strong preference for the Falcon and Grouse proposals from Senator Jim Bolin and Representative Drew Dennert.

Their respective proposals are similar and would separate urban interests of Sioux Falls from those of rural Minnehaha County, while keeping whole more counties such as Turner and Union.

“I hope there’s a compromise between those two,” Representative Kevin Jensen said.

The second theme was a call from some for an independent redistricting commission offered as a possible ballot measure that voters could decide next year.

“We’re tired of having strangers represent us,” Dee Halverson of Sioux Falls said.

State lawmakers hold a special session November 8 to draw new boundaries for the 35 districts that will be used for the 2022 through 2030 legislative elections.

The House and Senate redistricting committees wrapped up a three-day listening tour Wednesday with two meetings at the USD-CCSF campus at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Senator Casey Crabtree meanwhile said he’s looking to make changes to his Blackbird redistricting proposal.

Senator Mary Duvall said that 165 people had testified at the five meetings through Wednesday afternoon. Duvall said the committees have tried to be “palms up” and transparent.

Representative Kent Peterson said he took three and a half pages of notes and wants a final map that is “best for all of South Dakota.”

“And that’s something in our minds all the time, and we take that very seriously,” Peterson said.

Victoria Sportelli of Sioux Falls however said the Legislature’s one-sidedness — Republicans hold 32 of 35 Senate seats and 62 of 70 House seats — doesn’t reflect South Dakota’s voter registration splits.

“Ten years ago, the Legislature gerrymandered the entire state,” Sportelli said. She added, “No more gerrymandering. Fix this.”

The two committees are scheduled to get together two final times on Monday, October 18, and Monday, October 25, in room 414 of the Capitol in Pierre. Both meetings start at 10 a.m. CT.

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