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The boundaries of city council districts in Berne will be revamped slightly, but all council candidates will continue to be voted upon by all city residents under a state-mandated 10-year redistricting update given preliminary approval on Monday by Berne City Council.
According to City Attorney Jim Beitler, the council redistricting is required once each decade following the official U.S. Census.
Beitler said Berne traditionally has elected its council representatives under a special provision of Indiana Election Law for Third Class Cities with a population under 7,000. Under that provision, each council seat — four district seats and one at-large representation — is voted upon by all citizens of the city.
While current councilman Ron Dull said he would prefer that council members represent a specific district, the division of the city by township lines makes it virtually impossible to establish council districts of similar sizes.
"My personal preference is for councilmen to be elected by members of their districts, but knowing the challenges we're up against, I can see that would be very difficult to do," Dull said
Councilman Mark Wynn said he also prefers single district representation, "but for a town our size that's probably not necessary. I have never felt that I represent only the people in my district, and I know that no one else here does, either."
Beitler outlined minor changes that will be implemented in the makeup of each council district to reflect shifts in the city's population. The only meaningful change in the district outlines, the attorney said, is that future candidates for city council must reside within the district in which they seek election.
The council approved the first reading of the redistricting ordinance, and is expected to adopt the ordinance at its next meeting.