Nearly 18 months after it was supposed to be seated, a citizens redistricting advisory commission has been appointed by Bloomington’s city council.
Their task is to recommend to the city council new boundaries for the six city council districts, to even out the population imbalances that might have resulted from the 2020 census.
The five members of the new commission were chosen by the council’s selection committee, which met early Friday morning to determine five two-person candidate pools.
The choice between the two candidates in each pool was made by a coin flip.
Under the ordinance that the city council enacted in late 2020—then amended in early February this year, and again in mid-May—the commission was supposed to be seated by Jan. 1, 2021.
The five-member group has to give the city council a recommendation for a new district map by the first Wednesday in September this year. But there’s nothing in the ordinance that says the recommendation can’t come sooner.
Bloomington’s city council passed an ordinance in mid-December 2020 to establish a redistricting advisory commission that is supposed to make recommendations on the drawing of new city council districts, based on results of the 2020 census.
The nine-member group was supposed to be seated at the start of 2021, which is the year following the decennial census.
Now some 15 months later, no members of the commission have been seated—because there are not enough applicants who meet the eligibility requirements.
Under state law, it is this year—the second year following the decennial census—when the city council districts are supposed to be redrawn. That’s only if their populations have become unbalanced based on the census numbers.
But there’s no question that Bloomington’s current city council districts are unbalanced after the 2022 census count, because they have a 35 percent variance. An acceptable variance is considered 10 percent.
Even though nine months of the year remain, the timeline for the redistricting commission’s work is already getting tight.
And after amending the 2020 ordinance in early February of this year, to reduce the redistricting commission to five members, the planned commission is still short of eligible applicants.
On Thursday at noon, the city council committee that is responsible for selecting the redistricting commission members met in the McCloskey Room at city hall to review how to proceed. Making up the committee, under Bloomington’s new ordinance, are the three at-large members, who are elected by voters citywide: Susan Sandberg, Jim Sims and Matt Flaherty.
Option A: Clear Creek Township in the south goes from District 3 to District 1. Washington Township in the north goes from District 1 to District 3.
Commissioner districts are recommended to stay the same
Here’s the proposed adjustment made by Monroe County, rejected by the the state’s election division. It would establish a “new” precinct with fewer than 600 active voters.
Two Monroe County council districts will trade a couple of townships. But county commissioner districts will keep the same boundaries.
Those are the unanimous recommendations made on Monday morning by a four-person committee, which was assigned the redistricting task by Monroe County’s board of commissioners.
The commissioners are expected to have the recommended boundaries on their work session agenda for this Wednesday (Nov. 17). A final vote is not expected until the week following Thanksgiving.
The district boundary recommendations won’t be affected by an objection that the state’s election division has made to one of the proposed tweaks to Monroe County’s precinct boundaries. The precinct boundary changes were already approved by county commissioners.
That means the four-person committee has essentially wrapped up its assigned task in its fourth week of work. A meeting set for Thursday this week, as well as Monday next week, will be left on the calendar, in case the need arises to meet again.
A third possibility for new county council district boundaries is now getting consideration from the four-person committee that has been appointed to make recommendations on new precinct and district boundaries for Monroe County.
It’s simple to describe the third county council district option, which was floated at Monday’s committee meeting: Transfer Clear Creek Township from District 3 to District 1.
That’s the proposal labeled Option C in the graphics accompanying this article.
When the Democratic Party’s caucus picks a replacement for the resigning county councilor Eric Spoonmore sometime before year’s end, the relevant council district boundaries will be the same as they are now.
But potential caucus candidates might have some concerns about possible upcoming boundary changes, which could redistrict them out of their caucus-filled seat, preventing a run for election in 2022.
Seven revisions to current precinct lines in Monroe County are being recommended by a four-person committee appointed to give advice to county commissioners on precinct and district boundaries.
It was at their Monday meeting, after two weeks of work, when committee members settled on the recommendations, some of which could be considered technical.
The committee’s seven recommendations on precinct boundaries have been added to the regular meeting agenda for the county commissioners on Wednesday (Nov. 3)—just as a discussion item.
The Wednesday work session, when commissioners were originally expected to review the changes, has been cancelled.
That will set up the commissioners to vote on the precinct boundaries at their meeting the following week, on Nov. 10. That means Monroe County should be able to hit the Nov. 12 deadline set by the state elections division for changes to precincts.
Gathering at Monroe Democratic Party headquarters on Madison Street in downtown Bloomington on October 31, 2021.
Map of new and old districts.
Monroe County commissioner Penny Githens has announced a run for the District 62 seat in the Indiana legislature’s house of representatives.
Elections for the 100 state house seats take place in 2022.
The formal announcement came on Sunday afternoon, at a gathering of around 40 people at the Monroe County Democratic Party’s headquarters on Madison Street in downtown Bloomington.
Campaign themes that Githens highlighted on Sunday included the need to increase wages, recruit young people to the teaching profession, provide adequate childcare, and expand treatment for mental health issues and substance use disorders.
Githens told The B Square she will not be resigning from the Monroe County board of commissioners, in order to make the run for the District 62 seat.
A four-person committee that is supposed to advise the county commissioners on precinct and district boundaries for Monroe County is looking to make its first set of recommendations early next week.
Appointed by the Monroe County board of commissioners in mid-October, the committee hopes to settle on precinct boundary recommendations by the end of its meeting next Monday (Nov. 1). This past Thursday, the committee wrapped up the fourth of its meetings over the last two weeks.
Recommendations on boundaries for the four county council districts and the three county commissioner districts could come sometime in late November.