Story County supervisors approve precinct map on first consideration to meet quick deadlines

Danielle Gehr
Ames Tribune

Story County has a new precincts map to accommodate population growth, and changes made will trigger a local election in the years ahead.

The Story County Board of Supervisors passed the new precincts map Tuesday on first consideration, a necessity with quick deadlines for counties across Iowa. 

After the process was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the 2020 Census, counties and cities had until January to approve new wards and precincts. Gov. Kim Reynolds approved new boundaries Nov. 4. 

Work normally completed over six months was condensed into two weeks, Story County Auditor Lucy Martin said. Supervisor Linda Murken commended Martin on her quick work to which she responded, "I never want to do anything like this again."

"I'm asking you to pass it on first consideration, which is not ideal, not what I would like to do," Martin said, "But in the interest of time and getting this published by January 15, so that it's legal, I think it's necessary."

Related: Ames, Huxley see growth while Boone population lags, 2020 Census shows

Martin said Story County will grow from 43 to 44 precincts, as the county grew by 10% over the last decade. She said Huxley is the "big winner" as far as growth and will need to be split into two precincts.

'Give us a shot': Huxley's population boom boosted by location, schools, even Fareway, leaders say

The city grew by 27.9%, over the last decade, the most population change in the county. 

Martin said the Ames precinct was the most difficult to work with and ended up with the biggest changes. The law requires a precinct not fall in more than one legislative district and cannot accommodate current elected officials.

Previous: Redistricting will trigger election in two years after council members fall in same ward

Ward 1 Councilmember Gloria Betcher is now in Ward 3 with Councilmember-elect Anita Rollins, which will trigger an election in two years.

A change of a few blocks moved Ward 4 Councilmember Rachel Junck into the Ward 1 district, though she said her apartment lease will end next year and she can move back into her district. 

Ames drafted alternative maps but ultimately approved the county's map. 

Danielle Gehr is a politics and government reporter for the Ames Tribune. She can be reached by email at dgehr@gannett.com, phone at (515) 663-6925 or on Twitter at @Dani_Gehr.