SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The newest Chairperson of the St. Joseph County Democrat party, who is also on the St. Joseph County Council, is calling for public comment in nearly the same breath she’s voted against public comment.
Diana Hess, 68, was one of three council members who voted against hearing public comment at a special meeting on November 23rd. That meeting was to vote on if the council would hire a law firm to fight against re-districting maps approved by the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners. Democrats Mark Catanzarite and Robert Kruszynski also voted against public comment
The Board of County Commissioners is made up of all Republicans. The County Council has a Democrat majority. The council now has to draw up their own maps based off of the maps approved by the commission. There are a total of three commissioner districts. Each commissioner district is made up of three council districts. Meaning, the new county council maps have to be drawn in a way that each commissioner district contains three council districts within their boundaries.
Despite voting against public comment regarding the lawsuit against the commissioner maps, Hess is now taking to social media to call on Democrats to “provide feedback and input” on newly proposed council district maps. Those maps are being proposed by the Republican minority of the council, who are attempting to provide a solution prior to deadlines outlined in Indiana state law.
Hess also lies about the Board of County Commissioners not allowing public comment on their map process. At every meeting, the board allowed the public to make comments about the process. Further, she attacks Republican County Commissioner, Andy Kostielney, who is not running for re-election due in part to his current battle with cancer.
Last week, the Republican members of the council sent out their proposal for new council districts. The South Bend Tribune actually wrote up a fair article describing the proposed maps that you can read here.
“To summarize, the Indiana code states that the redistricted county council maps ‘shall be made’ by the end of this year. To that end, Mark Root, Richard Pfeil and I have filed a proposed ordinance (also attached) that creates nine council seats here in St. Joseph County within the new commissioner districts. We believe the council should hold the necessary public/special meetings before year end to pass these maps and comply with the statute.” Republican Council Member, Mark Telloyan, wrote in an email to the media. A PDF version of the proposed maps and ordinance can be found below.
A public hearing on the new council maps is scheduled for this Wednesday at 6:00pm at the Charles Martin Youth Center at 802 Lincolnway West in South Bend.
AN EARLIER VERISION OF THIS STORY INCORRECTLY STATED ONLY TWO DEMOCRATS VOTED AGAINST PUBLIC COMMENT, THERE WERE THREE. THIS STORY HAS ALSO BEEN UPDATED TO SHOW A CHANGE IN VENUE FOR A COUNTY COUNCIL MEETING WHERE A PUBLIC HEARING WILL BE HELD ON THE COUNCIL MAPS.
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