A new County
Council district map was approved by the Porter County Board of
Commissioners on Wednesday afternoon, correcting an oversight in the
ordinance approved late last year reconfiguring the four districts.
approved a new ordinance amending County Ordinance 13-17 that left part of
Westchester Twp. precinct 17 completely surrounded by Council District 1
while another section was attached to District 2.
A legal challenge
filed by County Councilman Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, and four other voters in
District 1 and District 2 shortly after the Commissioners’ adoption of the
ordinance argued that the state law requires all precincts within a district
be contiguous and that Ordinance 13-17 should be tossed out.
Circuit Court Judge Thomas Alevizos last Thursday upheld the new Council
districts, but also ordered the Commissioners change the ordinance to
correct a “bubble area” of Westchester Twp. Precinct 17, making it part of
President John Evans, R-North, read aloud the new ordinance during
Wednesday’s special meeting, drawing attention to the fact that only two
residents live within the bubble area. The split in the precinct occurred
when a new precinct map was approved in December 2011, Evans said.
Under the revision,
District 1 now contains all precincts located in Jackson, Liberty, Pine and
Westchester Twps. except for the part of Westchester 17 that was not in the
bubble area. District 1 also contains Portage Twp. precincts 4 and 6 and
Center Twp. precincts 11 and 25.
District 2 contains
the non-bubble census blocks of Westchester 17 and all Portage Twp.
precincts with the exception of precincts 4, 6, 15, 28 and 33.
District 3 contains
all precincts in Center Twp. except for precincts 11 and 25.
District 4 contains
all precincts located in Boone, Morgan, Pleasant, Porter, Washington and
Union Twps. as well as precincts 15, 28, and 33 in Portage Twp.
“That is that,”
Evans said after he and fellow Commissioners Nancy Adams, R-Center, and
Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, voted unanimously to approve the ordinance on
second reading, after suspending the rules.
No public hearing
was held and no one spoke out despite the contention surrounding the
Commissioners’ redistricting process. The Commissioners had faced criticism
from Rivas and other Democrats in December saying the board should not have
waited so long to redistrict with just a few days left before the start of
Even with the
changes made, Rivas has been removed from the district he represents on the
Council as a result of redistricting. He intends to move his residency to
District 2 and run to keep his seat.
The new ordinance
is now in effect for the remainder of the candidate filing period which ends
at noon on Friday, Feb. 7.
resulted regarding filings since no one had yet declared candidacy in any of
the four County Council District races.
Evans said after
the meeting that the Board of Commissioners intend to incorporate the
“bubble area” into Portage Twp. precinct 6 when it has the chance to do so
in 2015 (redistricting can only be done in an odd-numbered year according to
state law), but the split will remain in Westchester Twp. precinct 17 for
the duration of this year.
the court order,” Evans said.