Over the past few weeks, Palo Alto County Supervisors have struggled with decisions that will affect the residents of the county in the future, in terms of representation by the Supervisors.
After the mandated re-districting process that was approved on Dec. 9, the Supervisors have turned their attention to a pair of new issues created by the re-districting, which was determined by the state after state officials rejected three plans, submitted by the county.
In the past few days, a petition drive has begun in the county, asking voters to consider reducing the number of county supervisors from five down to three. To mount a successful petition drive, 391 signatures, or 10 percent of the votes cast in the last general election, must be obtained and turned into the Palo Alto County Auditor's Office. Once the signatures are verified, if enough signatures are obtained, the question of reducing the Board of Supervisors from five members to three will be placed on the General Election ballot in November of 2012
Even with that possibility, the Board of Supervisors has been considering making another change in terms of representation for the voters of the county.
Currently, voters who live in the district where the supervisor resides elect supervisors. Under the Iowa Code, this system is known as Plan III.
Another option is for supervisors to be elected to serve at-large, by all voters of the county. This method is known as Plan I. The Iowa Code also offers the option of allowing all voters in the county to vote for a supervisor to represent a specific district Plan II.
But what option is the best option for the future of Palo Alto County?
That is quite literally, the $64 dollar question that is staring the Supervisors in the face right now.
The Iowa Code gives the Board of Supervisors the right, under County Home Rule, to make such a change but if a change in representation methods is made, it must remain in effect for a period of six years. But, if the voters petition for a special election to change the method of representation, it can be changed again.
After discussion the various options in their Dec. 13 board meeting, the supervisors agreed that they want to hear from the voters. There are thoughts about the at-large representation method, and there are thoughts about at-large voters electing for a specific district. And, remaining as-is has support as well.
Rather than making a decision in haste, the Supervisors are asking the voters of Palo Alto County to make their feelings known. Contact your supervisor and express your thoughts.
Keith Wirtz represents District One, while Leo Goeders represents District Two. Jerry Hofstad represents District Three, while Ron Graettinger represents District Four and Ed Noonan represents District Five.
Take a few moments; call your supervisor, or any of the supervisors. The decision is important, and can have long-ranging impact on the county going into the future.
There's an unspoken feeling in many communities that "We've always done it this way" works and there's no reason to change. But then again, sometimes change needs to occur to facilitate the next step forward.