Advisory committee dives into precinct boundary work for Monroe County

A four-member committee established by the Monroe County board of commissioners has now met twice as it tackles the task of making recommendations on new precinct boundaries for the county.

Once the precincts are settled, the group will make recommendations on boundaries for county council and county commission districts. It will be the three county commissioners who make the decision on all the boundaries.

Appointed by county commissioners to the committee were two Democrats (Regina Moore and Ed Robertson) and two Republicans (Joyce Poling and Hal Turner). Continue reading “Advisory committee dives into precinct boundary work for Monroe County”

4-member advisory committee appointed to help with Monroe County redistricting

At its Wednesday meeting, the three-member Monroe County board of commissioners appointed four residents to give advice on the upcoming task of redrawing boundaries for precincts, as well as for county council and county commissioner districts.

The redistricting work on the local level has the same impetus as the state level process—the need to incorporate the results of the 2020 decennial census into voter districts for different elected offices.

The four appointees to the precinct and district boundary advisory committee (PDBAC) are: Regina Moore, Ed Robertson, Joyce Poling, and Hal Turner.

Elected to the city of Bloomington clerkship as a Democrat, Moore served in that role from 2000 to 2015.

Robertson is deputy chair of headquarters for the Monroe County Democratic Party.

Poling is assistant to the chancellor for community engagement at Ivy Tech Community College. Poling served as a Republican through 2007 on the Monroe County board of commissioners, which wrapped up a couple of decades of service in county government.

Hal Turner is currently the Republican appointee to the county election board.

The PDBAC will have to complete its work on a compressed timeline compared to previous years, because of the ripple effect of the late 2020 census. The late timing for release of 2020 census numbers led to a late start for state legislators on their work to redraw state-level boundaries. Continue reading “4-member advisory committee appointed to help with Monroe County redistricting”

Column: Bloomington’s city council should allow future annexees to serve on redistricting advisory commission

All eight annexation ordinances that Bloomington’s city council will consider on Sept. 15 include a date on which their affected areas become a part of the city: Jan. 1, 2024.

To achieve the need population balance for city council districts, the results of the 2020 decennial census would already point to a need to redraw district boundaries. The assignment of an annexation area to one of the six city council districts as a part of an annexation ordinance is required by statute. Annexations would add to the pressures to redraw city council districts. (Map does not reflect the amendments made at the council’s Aug. 31, 2021 meeting)

That’s less than two months after the next city elections for mayor, city clerk and city councilmembers.

If the effective date were set for Jan. 1, 2023, annexees would be able to participate in the ordinary democratic process for choosing local representatives.

The fact that new residents of the city would have to wait until 2027 to participate in city elections is a source of fair complaint. Even some Bloomington city council members have admitted they feel bad about it.

While the council could vote to amend the annexation ordinances to change their effective dates to Jan. 1, 2023, the council has shown no visible signs that it’s inclined to do that.

If the city council does not want to make annexees city residents in time to give them the right to vote in the 2023 municipal elections, then the council should at least allow future annexees to have some influence on the upcoming process for re-drawing city council districts.

That would mean altering the city ordinance enacted late last year that establishes a citizens redistricting advisory commission (CRAC). Only city residents are allowed to serve on the nine-member group. Continue reading “Column: Bloomington’s city council should allow future annexees to serve on redistricting advisory commission”

Elections: Monroe County commissioners gearing up for redrawing of local boundaries after state-level districts are decided

At its Wednesday work session, Monroe County’s board of commissioners agreed on a resolution that will establish an advisory committee to guide its decisions on the redrawing of precinct and district boundaries for the county.

The upcoming work of potentially redrawing precinct boundaries—and possibly districts for county commissioners and county councilors—is prompted by the decennial census. That’s the same impetus for the redrawing of congressional and state legislative districts, which is currently underway.

Results of the 2020 US Census were released in mid-August.

Redistricting work on the local level can’t be completed until the state-level districts are drawn. If an existing precinct is split by a state legislative or congressional district, it has to be redrawn so that it is not split.

Indiana’s state legislators are expected to settle on district boundaries in mid-to-late September.

Changes to precinct boundaries could have an impact on the redrawing of Bloomington city council districts in 2022, because precincts are the ordinary building blocks of council districts.

In the shorter term, work on the local level in the next several weeks will be done by the county government.

Oct. 15 is the deadline this year for a county to file a proposed re-precincting order with the Indiana Election Division (IED), according to a July 1 memo from the co-directors of the IED.

That means the county’s redistricting advisory committee will need to be established and its work completed in the next six weeks or so. Continue reading “Elections: Monroe County commissioners gearing up for redrawing of local boundaries after state-level districts are decided”

Analysis: Bloomington’s new redistricting advisory commission

Last Wednesday (Dec. 16), at its last regular meeting of the year, Bloomington’s city council approved the creation of a new redistricting commission that will in 2022 be responsible for making recommendations on boundaries for the six city council districts.

The idea of creating such a commission was uncontroversial. It was approved on a unanimous vote by the nine-member city council, which is made up of nine Democrats.

The new citizens advisory redistricting commission will also have nine members, but just three will be Democrats. In addition to the “delegation” of three Democratic Party affiliates, the ordinance also calls for a three-member Republican Party delegation and a three-member delegation of members who aren’t affiliated with either of the two major parties.

Each of the three delegations on the new commission has to include a full-time Indiana University student.

Council president Steve Volan wrote the ordinance. The slogan he gave in support of the basic concept of a redistricting commission was: “We shouldn’t be choosing our voters; they should be choosing their representatives.” Continue reading “Analysis: Bloomington’s new redistricting advisory commission”

Bloomington council president on local redistricting reform: “The commission has to be in place by 2021. It’s not far off.”

With its six city council districts, Bloomington is not unique among Indiana cities. But by year’s end it could be the only Indiana city that has a local commission established to handle the redrawing of council district boundaries.

This year’s city council president, Steve Volan, told The Square Beacon this week that one of his goals for 2020 is to establish an independent redistricting commission. It’s an idea he’s been working on for a couple of years, he said.

Under state statute, the city’s redistricting will be done in 2022, the second year after the decennial census. Continue reading “Bloomington council president on local redistricting reform: “The commission has to be in place by 2021. It’s not far off.””

State legislator to Bloomington redistricting advocates: “Show us on a local level.”

On Saturday morning, state legislators who represent parts of Monroe County appeared at Bloomington’s city hall to give constituents an update on this year’s session and to field questions from the 40 or so people who showed up.

The first question invited legislators to “foretell the future” of possible legislation on redistricting reform, given that previous proposals on the topic had “melted away into thin air.”

Historically, proposals for reform of the boundary change process for state legislative and congressional districts have included the establishment of some kind of independent redistricting commission.

In response the question on Saturday, Republican Jeff Ellington, who represents District 62 in the state house, challenged area officials to create local redistricting commissions. Such commissions could handle the upcoming task of redistricting the six districts of Bloomington’s city council and the four districts of Monroe County’s county council. Continue reading “State legislator to Bloomington redistricting advocates: “Show us on a local level.””

Analysis | Geographic sprinkling of councilmembers in Bloomington still uneven after election: Implications for redistricting?

Now that Bloomington’s municipal elections are over, the composition of the city council from 2020 to 2024 is settled. The new edition of the council, which takes office in 2020, includes four new councilmembers.

Kate Rosenbarger will take Chris Sturbaum’s seat in District 1. Sue Sgambelluri will take Dorothy Granger’s seat in District 2. Ron Smith will take Allison Chopra’s seat in District 3. And Matt Flaherty will fill the member-at-large position currently held by Andy Ruff.

It’s the first time since the transition from 1995 to 1996 that the nine-member council has seen that much turnover.  That’s when Jason Banach was swapped in for Kirk White (District 2), Matt Pierce for Jack Hopkins (District 3), David Sabbagh for Michael Bonnell (District 5), and Rodney Young for Paul Swain (member at large). Continue reading “Analysis | Geographic sprinkling of councilmembers in Bloomington still uneven after election: Implications for redistricting?”

Could the blue bubble of Bloomington have a reddish tinge in City Council District 2?

When maps of election results in recent Indiana statewide races are color-shaded—with reds or blues where Republicans or Democrats won more votes—the Hoosier state is a sea of red with some blue islands.


The few patches of blue for Indiana are consistent with a robust national pattern: Rural counties are stronger for Republicans; counties with higher urban populations, especially those with universities, are stronger for Democrats.

By way of example, in the 2018 Braun-versus-Donnelly U.S. Senate race, the Republican candidate (Mike Braun) carried most of the counties in the state. Monroe County, which is home to Bloomington’s Indiana University campus, went decisively Donnelly’s way, so it’s a dark shade of blue. Continue reading “Could the blue bubble of Bloomington have a reddish tinge in City Council District 2?”