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> Council redistricting
post Jan 18 2023, 04:29 PM
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The City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to finalize redistricting, just days from the deadline.

Approving the ordinance shouldn’t be difficult, now that the council has chosen which map it wants to use.

DePauw University professor Kelsey Kauffman provided several options to choose from. The council decided to use the first alternative, which excluded Indiana State Prison from the population considered for each district.

The prison is in District 3, represented by Councilman Michael Mack, and makes up about 44 percent of the district’s population.

The rationale for excluding the prisoners from the count is that they can’t vote while incarcerated, and their needs are met by the Indiana Department of Correction, not the city.

The council’s preferred map, selected last week, splits one precinct. “Some of them have a lot of changes to precincts,” council President Angie Deuitch, D-at large, said.
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The map chosen also has compact districts. “We’re adding or subtracting something across the street, not five streets down,” council attorney Jewell Harris said.

Harris had urged the council to reach a consensus on the preferred district so he could write the appropriate verbiage for the ordinance.

Districts are drawn every 10 years based on data from the decennial U.S. census. Sometimes, the previous districts still work and are kept.

Michigan City’s population is less than 34,000, so the council could have voted to switch to a third-class city and streamlined the government, including eliminating the city controller position and axing two council districts. However, the drawbacks of downsizing outweigh the benefits, Deuitch said. Second-class cities have more grant opportunities, including through the Community Development Block Grant program.

The last time the city’s population was high enough to qualify for a second-class city was in the 1980s, she said. Indianapolis is the only first-class city in the state.
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