Commissioners postpone debated redistricting plan

2013-12-03T15:30:00Z 2013-12-04T13:03:08Z Commissioners postpone debated redistricting planBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com
December 03, 2013 3:30 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | The Porter County Board of Commissioners headed off what promised to be a heated debate Tuesday when they postponed the unveiling of proposed new County Council districts.

Porter County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, said at the start of the group's business meeting that the proposal needed additional tweaking and would not be taken up until Dec. 17.

The decision came the day after a proposed redistricting plan surfaced that moved Democrat Porter County Councilman Jeremy Rivas' precinct from the 2nd District he now represents to the 4th District represented by Republican Councilman Jim Polarek.

The proposal, obtained by The Times, does not appear to relocate any other council members.

Rivas could not be reached Tuesday for comment. Porter County Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Chidester said if the commissioners attempt to remove Rivas from his district, party officials would confer with an attorney and possibily file a legal challenge.

Evans took offense a couple weeks ago when concerns were raised about the fairness of the redistricting plan and its timing shortly before candidate filings begin for next year's elections. Evans said the action was not taken in 2011, as is called for by law, because no one brought it to the attention of the commissioners.

The commissioners discussed redistricting the council districts during their Dec. 20, 2011, meeting, but opted to postpone taking action, according to the meeting minutes.

Evans is quoted in those minutes as saying about the council districts: "Can we move them to LaPorte County?"

The rush by the commissioners to redistrict surfaced in October after students from DePauw University in Greencastle claimed the county was not in compliance with requirements to equalize population within the council districts.

It was later revealed the students relied on faulty information provided to the state by the Porter County voter registration office. The population discrepancies are less than first thought.

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