Scraps and Ramblings – Gerrymandering
Here is the dictionary definition of gerrymandering:
U.S. Politics . the dividing of a state, county, etc., into election districts so as to give one political party a majority in many districts while concentrating the voting strength of the other party into as few districts as possible.
Well, there you go... one political party a majority.. I'm telling you there is no way on God's green earth that you could divide the council districts that would give a Democrat in Morgan county even a smell of being elected in a council race. There is a way to get one on the council, but not by drawing a line. This county is Republican...and I have the greatest respect for Democrats like the Becky and Wayne Weimire(sp) that make their civic contributions knowing rather hopeless odds of the election process. They manage to serve our county in a very needed manner... Becky is on the election board and Wayne on the Soil and Water Conservation... among other things. ..good folks...good citizens and the loyal opposition.
Now here is the real rub... keeping the lines in tact to avoid putting existing council members into running against existing council members. Some might see that as good...others as bad. That probably depends on if you agree or disagree or like or don't like a particular elected official... if we draw the lines differently they can upset the applecart and they won't have to deal with an election to do it for them. Frankly, I like to see the election process work...do its cleaving and achieving and not let the line drawing do it... it just seems fairer to me to put that decision in the hands of the electorate...seems more civic responsible and not manipulative. I did see a comment of wisdom on the Martinsville reporter blog recently that said some eggs are going to get broken when you redistrict...I sure agree.... and some like to break more eggs that others...makes the task interesting.
Redistricting is sort of like someone coming into your house every 10 years and saying tear down your walls... move the bedroom here and the bathroom there and Johnny here and Janey there. Some look at it as an opportunity...I look at is as a challenge... of course, my wife has a terrible time to get me to move the couch here and a chair there.
One final comment and then need to get to bed. The change in the county's population was only 3.3% in the past decade....just half of the Indiana's growth rate. I found that rather surprising...maybe even a bit disturbing. That is a topic for a different blog. For this blog comment, it would seem to say that there shouldn't be much need for changing unless it was done poorly before. The problem is that the shift of the population is going northeast... both the larger townships, (Brown twp/Mooresville) and (Washington twp/Martinsville) actually lost population in the past 10 years... Brown/Mooresville from 13,491 to 12,973 down 518 and Washington twp/Martinsville from 17,978 to 17, 073 down 905. Madison on the other had due to the Heartland Crossing growth, increased from 7391 to 9705 up 2414. Some are concerned..and perhaps rightly so that their growth is not reflected in the number of seats on the council. How to address this growth is a concern. But also how to be fair when the statue really doesn't address that very well. Having 4 urban precints in one township "control" the remaining 8 or 9 rural precints in the district doesn't sit well in the fairness chair. Their representation should or at least can increase with the election of at least two of the at large positions... This will occur if there is one factor present... participation.. both of the voters and those seeking to serve. There are three at large members on the council.. two are currently from the center part of the county and one from the northern areas. The population of Brown and Madison is 22, 678. Washington twp is 17, 073. However, we have the doughnut effect... with the center having a whole doughnut and the north having a half.... then you basically have both areas being very close to equal....depending to a great extent on where you place Clay township in the mix. Right now the center has 4 council members and the north 2 which isn't really representative of the numbers...One member is basically outside either. However, a change of a few votes in this last election plus active participation in the northern areas would have resulted in 3 council seats instead of two in the northern areas, with 2 in the center and 2 from the other areas...a pretty fair shake according to the population numbers. I do not see anything particularly out of sync with that ...at least not requiring an extensive overhaul. What I do see a need for is more active participation from those areas that feel "left out.". Their opportunity to achieve the representation they desire is not so much in the district lines but in the ballot box and the get involved box.
December 7, 2011