ANDERSON — The proposed maps for the legislative districts in Indiana shows only minimal changes in Madison County.
Members of the two major political parties voiced different positions on the new district lines.
The Indiana House Republicans on Tuesday released the proposed maps following the 2020 census for the House and Congressional Districts.
The Indiana House is scheduled to vote on the proposed maps next week, and the Republican Party has a supermajority in the House.
Rep. Terri Austin, D-36th District, will now have all of Anderson, Union and Adams townships. Prior to the new maps her district included only portions of Union and Adams townships and a small portion of Fall Creek Township.
“I think Indiana still needs to have an independent commission to draw the maps,” Austin said Wednesday. “I’m still looking at the numbers.
“From a statewide perspective are the districts competitive and fair?” she said. “Do they reflect the communities and counties? Is it fair to the people of Indiana?”
Austin said it appears the maps were drawn to favor one side over another. She has not determined how she will vote on the maps next week.
“Indiana should do what other states have done and create an independent commission,” Austin said.
Kyle Pierce ran against Austin in 2020, losing by 1,466 votes in the district.
Pierce said Wednesday he intends to announce his candidacy once the map is passed by the legislature.
“I thought the district was made more compact,” he said. “They added a few precincts and I was glad the district was filled out in Union and Adams townships. I think it will be a really competitive district for the next ten years.”
The district of Rep. Elizabeth Rowray, R-Yorktown, now includes all of Stony Creek Township along with Pipe Creek, Monroe, Richland, Lafayette and Jackson townships.
The biggest change in the district took place in Delaware County where Rowray will no longer represent a portion of Muncie and picked up Union and Hamilton townships in that county.
Democrat Melanie Wright, who lost a bid for re-election to Rowray in 2020, said she is not running again in the district.
“The 35th District has changed a little,” she said. “I think it will be less competitive. Until we have a non-partisan group drawing the maps, the elections will continue to be less competitive.”
Wright said she is considering running for the Democrat Party nomination for the 5th Congressional District seat served currently by first-term Republican Victoria Spartz.
The 53rd District, represented by Republican Bob Cherry, had previously included Stony Creek, Green, most of Fall Creek and the southern portion of Adams Township.
The new maps now have Cherry only representing Fall Creek.
Rep. Tony Cook, R-Cicero, District 32, will continue to represent northern Madison County until after the 2022 election. The number of the district is being changed to 31 and some of the boundaries are changing.
One major change is Green Township, which will now be represented by Rep. Chris Jeter, R-Indianapolis, who was first elected to the Indiana House in 2020.
Russ Willis, chairman of the Madison County Republican Party, said there were not many changes in the district maps.
“They moved things around a little,” he said. “I thought they (map) were fair and squared up the districts somewhat.”
5th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
Madison County remains in the 5th Congressional District represented by first-term Republican Victoria Spartz.
The proposed map has the district representing all of Madison, Hamilton, Delaware, Tipton, Grant and Howard counties.
The current maps included portions of Marion, Boone, Howard and Blackford counties.
Willis thought that Madison County might have been moved into the 6th Congressional District represented by Republican Greg Pence.
Lindsay Brown, president of the Indiana Democrat African American Caucus, said Hoosiers are tired of politicians who promise more opportunity but only deliver the bare minimum.
“The system is currently manipulated against the success of the Hoosier family,” Brown said. “This system is broken and was created 10 years ago when one political party drew a set of legislative maps that allowed elected officials to determine who they represent — not the other way around.”
Brown was critical of the redistricting process, stating the Indiana Republican Party created a gerrymandered system 10 years ago during the 2011 redistricting period and are doing it again with their current proposed maps.
“The proposed maps are not designed to increase the state’s voter participation. They are designed to increase their power and try to force their way of thinking on others,” he said. “We all deserve an Indiana future that’s free, fair and competitive.”