Legal fight poised over St. Joseph Co. redistricting

A legal fight is emerging over the redrawing of local election districts in northern Indiana’s St. Joseph County.

The Democratic-controlled County Council voted last week to hire a law firm for a possible lawsuit against the new election maps approved by the all-Republican county commissioners.

Opponents of those new maps argue they wrongly shift most of the county’s Black population into one of the three commissioner’s districts that is confined to the South Bend city limits, the South Bend Tribune reported. Critics say it’s an example of “packing” as many racial and ethnic minorities as possible into one district to limit their influence and that the new districts favor Republicans.

Commissioners President Andy Kostielney has said he’s confident the proposed maps would stand up to any legal challenge.

Political tensions over the St. Joseph County redistricting grew this fall after the commissioners spent $35,000 to hire the law firm Ice Miller for help drawing the maps.

The County Council has set aside $50,000 to pay the Indianapolis law firm. Former state Democratic Chairman Kip Tew, who is leading the Ice Miller legal team, said he didn’t know how quickly a court challenge to the redistricting could be resolved.

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