GUEST COMMENTARY: Rivas should not have been removed from district

2013-12-29T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Rivas should not have been removed from districtBy Jim Biggs nwitimes.com
December 29, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The recent redrawing of Porter County Councilman Jeremy Rivas out of his home district by the Porter County Board of Commissioners was unnecessary and wrong.

Regardless of what the county commissioners want the public to believe, they had no legal duty and certainly no moral obligation to draw this young man out of the district in which he was elected to serve.

County records show that since December 2011 the commissioners have known that council district lines needed to be reviewed by their board as the law requires. However, they did nothing until Dec. 18, 2013.

The law requires that any redrawing of council district lines must be done in an odd numbered year as the commissioners have correctly stated. However, the law also allows for open discussion and planning at any time before a decision is eventually made.

If the county commissioners had been paying close attention, this issue would have, and should have, been managed as early as January 2011. Instead, Commissioner John Evans claims they attempted redistricting in December 2011, only to have it delayed at the appeal of the Democratic director of the Voters Registration Department.

However, unlike anyone employed in the voter registration department, or anyone serving on the Board of Commissioners, Evans went through this process in 2001 and should have been clearly familiar with what needed to be looked after long before December 2013.

Instead, it took a handful of college students who took on this issue as a class project before the commissioners finally brought the issue forward.

If that weren't bad enough, it now appears that the information which these students drew their conclusion from was flawed because our county by mistake filed incorrect statistics with the state.

County taxpayers elected three commissioners who employ no less than four additional office staff to help manage their day-to-day responsibilities. To have a handful of college students living in another part of our state bring such an oversight to their attention is beyond explanation.

Attempting to cast blame toward any other office or individual for the way this was eventually managed is simply ignoring the facts leading up to this event.

As a member of the County Council I have had the opportunity over the last three years to work closely with Jeremy Rivas, and like many other county officials, I have come to admire his unwavering commitment to his district as well as his straightforward approach when dealing with county issues.

I’m honored to have worked with him over these many years and encourage him to do what he and his wife, Nina, think is best for their young family.

Porter County Councilman Jim Biggs, a Republican, represents the 1st District. The opinions are the writer's.

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