The Starke County Commissioners adopted the new council redistricting plan, having previously narrowed down the possibilities to two proposed plans. Neither of these two plans, however, were brought forth for a vote; rather, Commissioner Kathy Norem and Clerk Evelyn Skronski both presented revised plans. Commissioner Kathy Norem explained these two options are similar and share a number of strengths and weaknesses.
County Attorney Martin Lucas explained the county has four districts, and the goal is to make each district have near-equal populations, while maintaining township and city boundaries. The districts would also ideally be compact and contiguous, and avoid contests between incumbents while simultaneously avoiding diluting the effectiveness of minority voters.
Norem’s plan featured a 7.7 percent variation in district populations, while the plan drafted by Skronski varied by 8.4 percent. However, because Norem authored one of the plans, Skronski raised the question of whether or not Norem should be allowed to vote on the matter; Lucas said it should not be an issue and Norem is allowed to cast her vote.
The commissioners ultimately voted 2–1 in favor of adopting Norem’s plan, which bundles Jackson and Davis precincts with Center 6, Center 1, Oregon 3 and Oregon 2 to make up District 1. District 2 consists of Center 2, Center 3, Center 4, Center 5, California 1 and California 2. District 3 includes Oregon 1, Washington 1, Washington 2, and North Bend. The fourth district is made up of Railroad and Wayne townships.
Commissioner Jennifer Davis, the lone Democrat, voted against the adoption of Norem’s plan. Click here to view the plan.