INDIANAPOLIS -November 28, 2011- Today, the leadership of the newly-elected Democratic majority of the 2012 Indianapolis-Marion County Council called on Council Republicans to abandon their ill-conceived attempts to establish new Council district boundaries before the end of the year. Incoming Democratic Council leaders also called on Mayor Greg Ballard to rescind his recent order establishing new Indianapolis election precincts so that the bi-partisan Indiana Election Commission staff can review those precincts for compliance with state law.
Democratic Councillors Maggie L. Lewis (District 7), Brian Mahern (District 16) and Vern Brown (District 18) demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Republican redistricting proposal filed November 23, 2011. Councillors Lewis, Mahern and Brown cited the lack of bi-partisan technical review of Mayor Ballard’s newly ordered precincts on which that Republican redistricting proposal is based, as well as a complete lack of opportunity for the Council Democratic caucus to participate in redistricting efforts.
“Three weeks ago the voters soundly rejected the current Council’s Republican majority. The lame duck Republican majority’s last minute attempt to ram through an eleventh hour redistricting proposal must stop immediately,” said Councillor Mahern, who the newly-elected Democratic Councillors selected as their nominee for Council Vice President next year.
The Council’s Democratic caucus has not proposed new Council district boundary maps due to:
- New precincts for use in 2012 were ordered by Mayor Ballard with less than two hours before the deadline to introduce Council proposals for approval by the end of 2011
- Mayor Ballard’s ordered precincts for use in 2012 have not been independently reviewed for compliance with state law by the bi-partisan Election Division of the Indiana Election Commission
- The Council’s Republican majority provided itself financial resources to draft its proposed new Council district boundaries. No such resources were provided to the Council's Democratic caucus
- Indiana state law requires that new Council district boundaries must be established next year, two years following the 2010 census
"Without the 2012 precinct boundaries soundly established, we believe it would be wasteful and foolhardy to try to establish new Council district boundary maps in the short remainder of this year, only to have to repeat the process all over again next year as required by state law," said Councillor Mahern.
The Council Republicans’ last minute push to establish new Council district boundaries with precincts that lack bi-partisan review risks poisoning the well of cooperation next year.
"Proceeding at this point to attempt to establish new Council district boundaries with not yet reviewed precincts before the end of this year would serve only to declare open war on the possibility of bi-partisanship next year between Mayor Ballard and the incoming Democratic-controlled Council," Councillor Mahern said.
Incoming Democratic Council leaders also called on Mayor Ballard to immediately rescind his November 22, 2011, precinct order. Mayor Ballard’s November 22 order prevents the Election Division of the Indiana State Election Commission from conducting a technical review of those precincts.
The Mayor has the responsibility for periodically establishing precinct boundaries, which are the basic geographic area for elections and the building blocks for constructing district boundaries for elective offices.
The Election Division provides technical reviews for proposed precincts across the state.
Mayor Ballard’s November 22 precinct order is the first time an Indianapolis Mayor has ordered precincts without the benefit of the technical review by the bi-partisan state election agency.
"Prudence and fairness requires an independent bi-partisan technical review of 2012 precincts for state law compliance, particularly before anyone proposes new Council district boundaries based on those new precincts," said Councillor Mahern.
In an email sent November 23, 2011, shortly after receiving Mayor Ballard’s precinct order, the Indiana Election Commission’s Election Division warned the Mayor against ordering those precincts without such a technical review completed.
“Each county that I have worked with has needed some form of assistance or review. I would expect the largest county [Marion] to be the same,” wrote Michelle Misiukiewicz Brzycki of the Election Division. “I have yet to receive a county submission that did not go through various changes during this review stage. It is my strong recommendation that Mayor Ballard rescind that order to allow for [our] review and comment.”
Yet, with apparent foreknowledge of the Mayor’s order finalizing the election boundaries without a bi-partisan technical review, the Council's Republican Caucus proposed new Council maps based on those precincts only a few hours after the Mayor ordered those precincts adopted and minutes before the deadline for Council proposals that can be approved before the end of the year.
"It is disappointing to learn that while we were extending the olive branch of bi-partisan cooperation by requesting a meeting with the Mayor to discuss how we could work together to move the city forward next year, the Mayor was colluding with the Council’s Republican caucus in this power grab to thwart the Democratic caucus from proposing any new Council boundary maps," said Councillor Mahern.
The newly elected Democratic Councillors have selected Councillor Maggie A. Lewis as their nominee for Council President next year. They have also selected Councillor Vern Brown as Majority Leader for next year.