Candidate withdraws from race over redistricting map controversy

NOW: Candidate withdraws from race over redistricting map controversy

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ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind --- A democratic candidate withdrew from the upcoming St. Joseph County Commissioner's race over the controversial district maps still being debated and litigated.

Jason Critchlow who was planning to run for St. Joseph County Commissioner withdrew from the upcoming November elections Thursday because the updated maps changed the district he hoped to represent.

Although some were shocked and even disappointed by Critchlow’s announcement, the former candidate said believes the new maps passed by the Board of Commissioners purposely took his residence out of district one, which he planned to run in.

“I announced I was running for County Commissioner about a year ago now, last fall the County Commissioners passed a controversial redistricting map that removed my residence from the district that I was running in,” said Critchlow.

Critchlow announced his candidacy for St. Joseph County Commissioner last March, before the current board approved new district maps, last fall.

“I absolutely feel like I had the support, I had the momentum and I would have won this race, so I think it was a calculated effort by the County Commissioners,” said Critchlow.

“Unfortunately, because of the redistricting process, the current maps that are in place now presented by the Republican Commissioners they basically drew those maps and drew Jason Critchlow out of the district,” said St. Joseph County Council President Rafael Morton.

But district one’s current Republican County Commissioner Andy Kostielney who voted in favor of the new maps said it’s not unusual for a candidate’s filing district to change.

“This is not uncommon at all that there are significant changes, because population changes residency changes for where people are located. We tried to remove politics from this by drawing districts and maps that didn’t account for where anyone lived,” explained Kostielney.

Officials said if an agreement is reached during the mediation process it would end the County council’s lawsuit over the maps.

“If we could come to some type of agreement in the next week or really even less than that, in the next few days, then it’s possible we could expedite this process. The end of the month might be a little bit hopeful but we could in the next 30 days have all of this resolved,” said Kostielney.

“It’s happening at the 25th hour but it is happening so I’m hoping we can come to some type of agreement on both sides during this mediation process,” added Morton.

If by chance an agreement is not met by the end of the candidate filing period in February, the current maps passed by the Board of Commissioners will remain in place.

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