SJC Board of Commissioners vote to approve county redistricting, despite controversy
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners voted again to pass the new district election map-- despite efforts to postpone the vote after arguments were made that public consideration was needed.
According to Commissioner Derek Deiter “To not entertain public input on any issue is horrible for the county. Government should not be that way.”
A second vote passed the controversial new redistricting map-- which splits the county's population more evenly into the three districts, though Dieter argues his district-- District 2-- is shrinking the vast majority of his voter base, losing townships like New Carlisle, Lakeville and North Liberty, now primarily representing South Bend.
Last night, he and other members of the county council appeared at a town hall meeting, expressing their concerns and even presenting two alternate maps to the one proposed to the Board of Commissioners.
Dieter hoped to postpone the vote to discuss the matter further, and include more public input, but the motion was not seconded by either of the other commissioners at the meeting, opting to pass the new map, 2-to-1.
"It’s extremely disappointing from my perspective," said Dieter. "But I think it’s more disappointing for the voters of St. Joseph County.”
Commissioner Andrew Kostielney, of District 1, sees the same issue differently, saying the new district map meets the criteria they set out when looking to redraw the districts, and that is ultimately why the new map was approved.
“The guidelines that we discussed were- we wanna have maps that are even in population, that are contiguous, and that we try and keep communities of interest together. Those are the primary items that we gave in drawing these maps,” said Kostielney.
Despite the concerns over the perceived lack of input from the public, and fears minority voters are being consolidated into District 2, Kostielney says he would not have voted in favor of the new map if it wasn't going to appropriately serve the county.
“I do what I think is best," he said. "That's kind of been what I've done for my last 13 years is as a board Commissioner member: I do what I think is best.”
The two alternate maps presented by the public were rejected by the Board of Commissioners for not following the guidelines for the redistricting.