Valparaiso’s proposal for redistricting the City Council and proposals by six community members are up for consideration when the council meets Monday to go over how to set the boundaries for the next 10 years.
Council President Casey Schmidt, R-3rd District, and Council Vice President Diana Reed, D-1st District, put together the city’s proposal with the assistance of Republican Brian Bosma, the former speaker of the Indiana House who is now working as a consultant with Kroger Gardis & Regis. The city paid $40,000 for the work.
Schmidt said Bosma met with all of the council members about how their districts should be.
“They had input as well because they represent their districts and their constituents,” Schmidt said.
Basic guidelines for the city’s map included doing their best to keep council members in their districts, which was achieved; not splitting any precincts unless there were extraordinary circumstances; and keeping each district within a 5% deviation from 6,830 people, the ideal number based on the 2020 Census.
Another goal was for each district to be bipartisan, Schmidt said, which was something they tried to make clear from the beginning, adding he and Reed met multiple times throughout the process.
“You’re never going to make everyone happy. You do what’s best for Valpo,” he said.
While some of the citizen proposals that were submitted accounted for the city’s future growth, Schmidt said the guidance he and Reed received suggested they use the current census rather than anticipating where or how the city might grow.
“That’s why we do it every 10 years,” he said of the redistricting.
He also was impressed by the civic engagement and the resulting six proposals from the community.
That included one from Valparaiso resident Joe Dauginas, who found out about the opportunity to submit a proposal and figured, “Why not?”
“My vote is ultimately my voice,” he said. “I thought it would be a fun activity.”
He likened the exercise to playing “Tetris” or “Cities: Skylines.”
“You’re trying to engineer this maze but first you have to remove yourself from the maze,”
Dauginas said, adding his considerations included, “Where will my vote matter or who will be accountable to my vote.”
The redistricting has to be completed by the end of the year, he said, adding city officials had all year to come up with a plan and wondered why they waited until the fall.
His goal, as was the goal of some of the other residents who submitted proposals, was to have as many council members as possible downtown.
“Four of five council districts have a touching point downtown and all five districts have a way out of town for outward growth,” Dauginas said, adding his plan also split one precinct, Washington 3, between Districts 2 and 4 because of population density.
All of the proposals can be found at www.ci.valparaiso.in.us/1731/Legal-Department.
The council meets at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 166 Lincolnway, to consider the redistricting proposals under first reading. Second and final reading will be during the Nov. 14 meeting.