The 2020 U.S. Census made history in Montana, in that the state grew its population to the point that a second congressional district could be restored after being lost over 30 years ago.
A person of five Montana Redistribution Committee was tasked with drawing the boundaries of the new neighborhood in a process that took several months. Two are Republicans, two are Democrats, and the chairman of the commission was chosen by the Montana Supreme Court.
Dan Stusek is one of the Republican members of the Montana Redistribution Committee and spoke to KGVO News about the process.
Nine maps were drawn and there was a lot of public comment, however, the President, Presiding Officer Maylin Smith rejected the nine and added two more, cards 10 and 11.
“Our population has grown enough to regain a second seat in Congress,” Stusek said. “Montana lost its second seat in the 1990 census and we found it 30 years later, so it’s pretty exciting. Montana actually went from the least represented state in the United States House of Representatives per capita to the most represented state in the United States House per capita by going from one seat in Congress to two. .
Stusek said the commission members were all well aware of the political pros and cons depicted in the district maps.
“The Republican card actually gave Democrats the coveted city of Bozeman that they wanted throughout this process,” he said. “Additionally, the Republican proposal granted 87% of the population of Gallatin County, including the entire I-90 corridor from Three Forks in Manhattan to Belgrade to Bozeman, including all city limits to Democrats.”
Stusek said Lewis and Clark County, seat of the Helena State Capitol, was also strategic on the maps.
“All of the Republican proposals had initially included Helena in a Western District, believing it made more sense as Helena is further west than Bozeman and County Gallatin. However, it was clear that our colleagues wanted County Gallatin and Bozeman in their proposal to the west, and so in order to achieve a spirit of compromise, we gave them this, but because we did, then you need to move a major population center east, and the next easternmost location was Lewis and Clark County. “
Stusek said every effort would be made to make the new district as neutral as possible, but he did not rule out a possible trial.
“I know there has been a growing trend nationwide over the last decade to modify the maps that have been offered that are considered a bit too gerrymandered,” he said. “I can’t speak to what people can do, but I think our card better meets legal requirements and expectations, and better meets the eye and scent tests the Montanais expect and would probably hold up better if it were. challenged, then the Democratic Party proposal. “
There will be a final public meeting in Helena on Saturday October 30 to offer comment before the decision is made.