Democrats dominate Muncie, IN City Council

FREE PRESS REPORT

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) -  New districts for members of Muncie City Council were adopted this week with little partisan conflict.

 That was mainly because Democrats who hold a 7-2 majority on council, had say over the two Republicans who hold north and west districts on the city lawmaking body.

 Council President Jerry Dishman, a Democrat, some changes were made in council district, including his own, but none should change the political balance of those districts

Council has six districts and four held by Democrats.

Dishman saw changes to his District 5 in north Muncie, including removal of a neighborhood that was upset over his decision to rezone land along McGalliard Road for Grove Apartments.

The biggest change came in District 2 held by Republican council member Mark Conaster that was compacted to near Ball State neighborhoods west of Wheeling. It's odd shape gave political pundits cause to call it gerrymandering.

 Conaster was not even at the meeting whether council unanimously approved the new district. That vote included Republican council member Brad Polk, also a former Republican Party chairman.

Polk did have some conversations with Dishman and council Democrat Mary Jo Barton before the meeting, but made no concerns known to the public. Barton also had some changes to her District 3 that included losing Ball State neighborhoods north of the river.

 The bottom line to the council districting was it really made no difference. Republicans have not held a majority on council since 1983 and with current demographics, will probably never again. Besides the six district council members, there also are three elected at-large and all are Democrats.

 That is almost like redistricting in Yorktown recently when the town abolished the township and took in all its residents. That council added a couple districts for the new town and kept two at large council members.

 Unlike Muncie district council members elected by district, Yorktown district council members are elected at-large and that maintains a Republican majority, like the Democrats hold a majority in Muncie. Republican Bob Ratchford, Yorktown council president, insists electing district council members at large is fair.