Chesterton Tribune



Council asked to take a stand in support of nonpartisan redistricting

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Leigh Morris, former mayor of LaPorte and former chair of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, is urging the Chesterton Town Council to adopt a resolution in support of independent, non-partisan legislative redistricting in Indiana.

Speaking from the floor at the council’s meeting Monday night, Morris told members that the idea behind redistricting--conducted every 10 years after a census--is to “equalize the number of people in each district” by realigning the district’s boundaries.

The intent of redistricting is clear, Morris noted. “But the execution is not.” That’s because “politicians in power gain special advantage by manipulating district boundaries,” that is, by carving power-protected districts heavily weighted toward a single political party and its incumbent. The process is called gerrymandering, and according to one study Indiana is “one of the most gerrymandered states in the U.S.,” Morris said.

Efforts to introduce non-partisan redistricting have gone nowhere fast in the General Assembly, dying quick deaths in committee, even though there are legislators who would like to vote for them, Morris said. “Legislators in Indiana are scared to pursue non-partisan redistricting because of political repercussions.”

The result: a very high number of uncontested House seats leads to a very low rate of voter turnout, as voters become discouraged and cynical, Morris said.

For that reason, the Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting is asking cities and towns to adopt resolutions in favor of non-partisan redistricting, to give legislators ammunition when confronting the entrenched interests in Indianapolis.

So far, 25 municipalities have adopted such a resolution, a model of which Morris submitted to members for their consideration.

Excerpts from that model resolution:

* “The redistricting process should be conducted in an open manner with real opportunities for public dialogue and feedback, not behind closed doors.”

* “Public input and involvement in the redistricting process will empower our communities by allowing them to elect representatives who represent their interests on issues that important to their lives.”

* “The boundaries of state districts are currently drawn by legislative incumbents, often sacrificing the integrity of neighborhoods and cities.”

* “Voters are more likely to participate when they feel that their vote will count and that they have a reasonable chance of electing candidates who represent their interests.”

* “Elected officials are more responsive to constituents when voters have a choice of candidates, thus increasing accountability.”

Morris did say that action on resolution needs to be taken quickly, before the next General Assembly meets, in advance of the 2020 census.

Speaking in favor of the resolution was Chesterton resident Pat Carlisle. “As a concerned citizen, please take this under consideration and let's go forward,” she said.

Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, did ask for one clarification, namely, that the districts under discussion are state legislative and congressional, not municipal, which are also occasionally redrawn. Morris said that the resolution on the table concerns only state legislative and congressional districts.


Posted 6/13/2018


Posted 6/13/2018


Posted 6/13/2018


Posted 6/13/2018


Posted 6/13/2018


Posted 6/13/2018




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