SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Maps showing which districts you vote in are supposed to be done soon, but it appears St. Joseph County is way behind the eightball.
State law requires county councilors to redraw where each of their seats is based on districts that are drawn by commissioners. The county council has a 6-3 Democrat majority while the commission has a 2-1 Republican majority.
The council is planning to sue the commission, saying that the new maps drawn by commissioners gives an unfair edge to Republicans in St. Joseph County.
“This has never been a collaborative bipartisan effort,” said Commissioner Andrew Kostielney (R). “In the last ten, twenty, thirty years these maps have been drawn by the Democratic Party. This is always done by the party that controlled the process and that’s what happened here.”
Councilors voted to send three alternative proposals for voting district maps in St. Joseph County earlier this week, one for each possible outcome of their forthcoming lawsuit. Commissioners voted 2-1 to veto the measure, which Kostielney expects to be overridden.
The only Democratic commissioner, Derek Dieter, moved to table the proposed maps.
“That’s why I attempted to table this so there could be further negotiations as it would be so to talk and come up with something that’s going to work for all of St. Joseph County,” Dieter said. “As elected officials, we should be able to sit down, we may disagree on stuff, but we should be able to come up with our own maps.”
St. Joseph County is required by law to vote for a nine-member council, which is unique from other counties which only have seven. One of the contingencies proposed by Democratic councilors would reduce the council from nine seats to seven with two at-large councilors.
Some Republicans call Democrats’ moves a “preservation tactic” while Democrats accuse Republicans of trying to gerrymander to get an edge for the next decade.