Portage Township voters hit hardest by redistricting proposal

2013-12-05T14:50:00Z 2013-12-06T07:58:04Z Portage Township voters hit hardest by redistricting proposalBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com
December 05, 2013 2:50 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | More voters in Portage Township than anywhere else would be impacted by a proposed County Council redistricting plan that surfaced earlier this week.

The proposal calls for relocating nine precincts in Portage Township (4, 6, 16, 21, 22, 27, 28, 31 and 33), which would redirect 7,705 active voters to a different council race as soon as next year, according to election records.

It also would change who is eligible to run in what race, with the immediate effect of disqualifying Democratic Porter County Councilman Jeremy Rivas from seeking re-election next year in his 2nd District.

Rivas' precinct would be moved to the 4th District, which would force him to decide whether to give up his service on the council or run against Republican ally James Polarek.

The Republican-controlled Porter County Board of Commissioners announced at the last minute this past week that it was delaying the heated redistricting until Dec. 17 to allow time for additional tweaking.

A redistricting proposal obtained by The Times calls for further relocating four Center Township precincts (11, 25, 18 and 31), which would affect 4,057 active voters and 267 active voters in Westchester 17.

The district seats on the council only can be held by a resident of that district and are voted on only by active voters within that same district.

The proposal would move six strongly Democratic precincts — five from Portage Township and Westchester 17 — to Rivas' current 2nd District from districts now held by Republicans.

Critics of the redistricting proposal have questioned why the commissioners are carrying out the move less than a month before candidate filings begin for next year's election rather than having done it two years ago when it was required by law following the 2010 census.

Porter County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, said a couple of weeks ago the action was not taken in 2011 because no one brought it to the attention of the commissioners.

Yet records show the commissioners discussed redistricting the council districts during their Dec. 20, 2011, meeting, but opted to postpone taking action.

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