ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — Allen County has grown, and as a result, certain county districts needed to be balanced.
The Allen County commissioners during a short legislative meeting Thursday morning passed an ordinance to amend district lines for the County Council and the commissioners based on the 2020 census. The commissioners also approved slight changes to the commissioners’ maps, although the three commissioners are elected by the entire county.
The census showed Allen County has grown by some 30,000 residents in the last 10 years. Most of that growth happened in the northwest part of the county.
That made certain county districts unbalanced, the commissioners were advised. .
To rebalance districts, County Council District 1 and 2 grew, and District 3 shrunk. District 4 in the southwest, including Aboite Township, was unchanged. The county is represented by four district councilmen and three at-large representatives, Kyle Kerley, Ken Fries and Bob Armstrong.
The primary change to the maps occurred by moving all of Cedar Creek Township on the county’s north side into District 2, the smallest district that had grown by 3,000 residents since the 2010 Census, according to census figures compiled by County Council president Kyle Kerley..
District 3, referred to as northwest that includes Perry Township where a considerable amount of housing has been built and still growing, grew by about 14,000 residents. Paul Lagemann was appointed District 3’s councilman after Joel Benz stepped down.
District 4 , represented by Chris Spurr, grew by about 8,000 residents and the southeast, including Adams andhalf of Wayne townships, by about 5,000, Kerley noted.
In November, the county council voted unanimously to move all of Cedar Creek Township into the 2nd district, represented by Tom Harris. The commissioners more or less followed that advice, Kerley said.
“The map that Council recommended back to the commissioners in November and the commissioners’ original proposal had Cedar Creek Township in different districts,” Kerley said in a text message. “The commissioners sought and received input from the public and council and the final version they approved today was a positive result for everyone.”
Kerley said Perry and Cedar Creek townships “are the fastest growing townships in the county, so council felt it wise to not leave those in the same district so that representation was more balanced.” By moving all of Cedar Creek Township into the 2nd district, it “protects against the 3rd’s growth outpacing the other three districts.”
Sheila Curry Campbell, District 1 representative, attended Thursday’s meeting and said she was happy with the changes.
“Some of the things we’re looking at are the precincts. So once this goes through the process, those are things that we need to watch. We need to make sure there is no type of voter suppression with moving the precincts. We want to make sure that the election board is doing their work.” That would include making sure residents whose precincts were combined or moved are duly notified of the changes.
At the meeting, an official said the Allen County precincts shrunk from about 280 to 276 precincts. Kerley said representatives for a total of seven precincts will have different council representation and 27 precincts were combined.
Commissioner District 1 grew, while Districts 2 and 3 shrunk.
County-level redistricting is required by the state every 10 years based on the results of the latest U.S. Census. The county commissioners have the authority to redistrict their own districts and those of the county council.
Commissioner Nelson Peters said the commissioners were asked whether they considered future growth when redistricting.
“I don’t know how you can,” he said, explaining that’s why the districts are redrawn each 10 years.
Commissioner Therese Brown said she expects “a lot of dynamic” in the county districts between now and the next census. She said the lines as drawn were “wonderful.”
Brown said that making Cedar Creek Township “intact,” gave residents clarity as to where they live. Because of the changes, all of the township’s precincts will be in the second district.
The changes will become effective Saturday – Jan. 1, 2022. Residents impacted will be contacted by the Election Board, the commissioners said.