Frustration grows over St. Joseph County redistricting maps
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. --- The controversy over the redistricting maps in St. Joseph County carries on, after the Board of Commissioners vetoed the new maps approved by the County Council Tuesday night.
The Commissioners voted 2-1 to veto the vote passed Tuesday night by the County Council, in favor of bill 159-21 that brought forward three different hypothetical maps to the state.
Wednesday’s move means more uncertainty for St. Joseph County’s redistricting maps and eventual voting districts, and commissioners on both sides of the aisle said they’re frustrated that an agreement still hasn’t been met.
“Commissioner maps were created and Council maps were created, so because Council was unwilling to kind of follow that process we decided we had to end up going this route,” said St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners President Andrew Kostielney.
“I think as elected officials and adults we should be able to sit down and we can disagree on stuff, but we should be able to come up with our own maps,” added District Two Commissioner Derek Dieter.
Dieter, who was the only Commissioner who did not vote in favor of Wednesday’s veto, has supported public criticism that has said the initial maps presented by the two commissioners would be politically unbalanced, packing democrats and racial minorities into one district.
“Community input has been here and I don’t think the other two commissioners here have listened to the community who’ve been vehemently against this map because there were no work sessions, no input, no telling people the precincts that had to be in it, how to draw maps,” said Dieter.
New redistricting maps are created every 10 years and Kostielney said he believes the previous process has never included the opposing political party or public input.
“This is always done by the party who controlled the process so that’s what happened here but since the outcome of the process wasn’t as desirable for a certain party then things have escalated to this point,” explained Kostielney.
Officials said the stall in a decision that was supposed to be made by the end of the year could create confusion for potential candidates filing on January 5th.
If the county council decides to override the commissioners veto, it’s possible litigation may follow.
Kostliney also said he did meet with some Council members Wednesday morning to discuss the maps and they hope to all meet again to come up with a solution.
The County Council is also set to meet Thursday again at 5:30 pm to decide whether or not to override Wednesday’s veto.