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Valparaiso City Council redistricting process getting underway

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screenshot from city council meeting video
Attorney Brian Bosma explains the population deviation in the Valparaiso City Council's current districts, during the council's Sept. 26 meeting.

Valparaiso City Council districts could be moving next year. The city council passed a resolution Monday outlining the redistricting process, following the 2020 Census.

Attorney Brian Bosma with law firm Kroger Gardis & Regas said the city can't keep the five districts as they are, since their populations are no longer balanced. "So [districts] two, four and five are all greater than five or six percent over the ideal, and then one is 13-and-a-half percent under. Three is 5.4 percent under," Bosma explained.

As part of the process, Council President Casey Schmidt and Vice President Diana Reed will serve as co-redistricting coordinators. Members of the public will also have the chance to submit their own redistricting plans by October 19. An ordinance will be introduced to the full council on October 24, with final adoption scheduled for November 14.

The challenge is to keep the districts as balanced as possible, while avoiding crossing precinct boundaries. Council member Robert Cotton asked whether it might be easier to ask the county to adjust the precincts, instead.

"It would be far less impactful on disrupting the relationship that council members have established within their constituency district, versus having to flip entire precincts," Cotton said.

Barbara Domer with the League of Women Voters of Porter County welcomed the opportunity for public input but wanted to make sure it's equitable. "It appears the public will have an opportunity to submit draft maps, but will we be provided the same tools that the coordinators are being given to prepare these draft maps?" Domer asked.

Others questioned Bosma's involvement in the process, due to his history as the longtime Republican speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives.