Starke Commissioners Choose Two Possible Redistricting Plans

The Starke County Commissioners met yesterday afternoon at 2 p.m. to discuss the redistricting of the county council. Commissioner Kathy Norem said she drew up maps including the current layout of districts, and said the commissioners needed to look at six different plans, each with different strengths, weaknesses, and most of all, boundaries. She said the goal was to choose two frontrunners to bring to their next regular meeting to be voted on.

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 said the number of criteria involved in redistricting made the process complicated, and none of the plans are perfect.

“When we looked at all this criteria, we recognized that there were no perfect plans, no perfect options, so we tried to get them as close as we possibly could,” said Norem.

Norem presented six different plans, three of which were quickly eliminated because they did not meet the requirement of having less than 10 percent of a deviation in population. The fourth plan lacked contiguity, but the fifth and sixth plans presented seemed to be in compliance with the requirements and the board voted to bring those two plans forward at their next meeting.

They both do divvy up the city of Knox a little bit, and I think it’s just simply a matter of how those boundaries are divided in terms of the rural and more populated areas,” she said.

The board will present the plans at their next meeting on Sept. 16 and vote on which plan best represents the voters of Starke County.