Ken de la Bastide: Ken de la Bastide column: Redistricting legislation could result in Anderson settlement

Mar. 16—Legislation signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb is expected to resolve a federal lawsuit involving redistricting in the city of Anderson.

Holcomb signed the legislation presented by Madison County lawmaker Mike Gaskill that grants governmental entities that didn't redistrict in 2021 an extension to accomplish the task.

The bill gives government entities that have not redistricted until July 1, 2025 to draw new boundary lines.

The legislation includes a provision that if the redistricting is not completed by that date, elected officials — including school board members — would not be paid.

Last year Common Cause of Indiana, the League of Women Voters and the Madison County branch of the NAACP filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging the six districts on the Anderson City Council didn't comply with election laws ensuring equal representation.

Not surprisingly the 4th and 6th districts, closest to the downtown Anderson area, don't contain the same number of registered voters as the 3rd District, where most of the city's population growth has taken place.

The population of the city's 1st and 5th districts are similar in numbers.

The lawsuit contends District 3 has 11,644 residents; District 4 has 7,490; and District 6 has 8,364 residents.

Districts 1, 2 and 5 have populations ranging from 8,494 to 9,627.

In 2022, the City Council voted not to redraw the boundary lines despite concerns raised about the numbers and the fact that no real changes had been made in decades.

The recently passed legislation throws the federal lawsuit into potential disarray.

Can the federal court overturn a state law extending the redistricting deadline to July 1, 2025?

Attorneys for both sides were close to a settlement at the end of last year, but any deal fell apart over a dispute concerning the district maps.

At one time the proposed maps had District 6 councilman Joe Newman moved into the same district as District 4 councilman Ollie H. Dixon.

Members of the council have expressed opposition to that proposal.

One of the things that must be considered in any settlement is the maintaining of a minority district on the City Council.

That district has traditionally been District 4.

When the Madison County Council redistricted in 2021, it basically did away with the lone minority district when it moved the lines into the Edgewood area.

At this point, it's probably safe to speculate that Common Cause and the others want to reach a settlement. Look for an settlement to be finalized in the next few weeks.

Senior Reporter Ken de la Bastide's column publishes Saturdays. Contact him at ken.delabastide@heraldbulletin.com or

765-640-4863.