Mills, Fremont Counties Moving To 4th Congressional District
Iowa State Rep. David Sieck (R-Glenwood) is giving mixed reviews to the state’s new legislative and congressional districts created by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency and approved overwhelmingly by both the Iowa House of Representatives and Senate.
The approved map was the second proposal presented to the legislature and was accepted by a margin of 48-1 in the Senate and 93-2 in the House. The first proposal was rejected by Republican senators, the majority party, who claimed it created a congressional district likely to vote Democratic. The second map is expected to leave Iowa leaning Republican with three competitive districts and one GOP stronghold. Legislators from both political parties said the process upheld the state’s “gold standard” redistricting process established to prevent gerrymandering.
For Sieck, redistricting means he’ll lose some constituents in Montgomery County but pick up some in rural Pottawattamie County as part of the new District 16. The first proposal had Sieck gaining additional areas in Montgomery County and two townships in Pottawattamie County.
“I would have had a larger percentage of my old constituent base,” he said. “You hate to lose your constituents. I lose about 10,000 of my constituents which I’m picking up in Pott County. So, I lose some friends and neighbors but I pick up some new people, too.”
State Sen. Mark Costello of Imogene is losing Montgomery and Page Counties as part of the new District 8 but picks up Harrison County and all of Pottawattamie County except the city of Council Bluffs.
The congressional redistricting map moves Fremont, Mills and Pottawattamie Counties from District 3 to District 4, currently represented by Republican Randy Feenstra. The remainder of southwest Iowa will remain in District 3, represented by Democratic congresswoman Cindy Axne.
The new District 4 is comprised of 36 counties, stretching from the southwest corner of the state all the way to north central and east central Iowa.
“In the congressional district, they chopped it up,” Sieck said. “So, we’re no longer part of southwest Iowa – we’re part of northwest Iowa, basically. That upsets a lot of people because they’re dividing southwest Iowa up.”
Sieck said Iowa is one of only a few, if not the only state, that doesn’t allow a county to be divided into multiple congressional districts.
“Iowa has a strange law, which we for congressional districts have to use an entire county,” he said. “You can’t split a county so they’re limited to how they can get the head count correct using certain counties. If they could have divided up some of Des Moines’ (area) counties, they we could have done it easier and had four squares in each corner of the state.”
Sieck said the redistricting validated his continued concerns about a decline in population among Iowa’s rural communities. Eighty counties lost population in the last census - mainly in rural areas - meaning urban areas will be have more voices in the legislature for the next 10 years.
“We keep losing our rural clout because the cities are growing faster and the rural districts are losing population,” he said. “That’s a concern that I’ve had. We need to keep growing our small towns and rural counties.”
The new legislative and congressional districts go into effect for the November 2022 general election.