For immediate release:
Aug. 12, 2015
INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath from Michigan City announced today he has selected distinguished academic Sheila Suess Kennedy from Indianapolis to serve on a new committee that will help determine if there is a need to change the way legislative and congressional districts are drawn in Indiana.
More specifically, the Special Interim Study Committee on Redistricting will play a key role in helping lawmakers decide if such duties should be handled by an independent commission, rather than the Indiana General Assembly.
The committee – which consists of lawmakers as well as Kennedy and other lay members -- is expected to spend the next year and a half studying the situation, with an eye toward having recommendations for the Legislature to consider in its 2017 session.
“It is my belief that a study of this type is long overdue, and a critical component of any election reform,” Pelath said. “Indiana has among the worst voting numbers in this country, and it must be said that a portion of that is caused by the belief that there are a lack of choices when a person casts a ballot. There are fewer choices because congressional and legislative districts are being drawn by partisan politicians, with an assist from the special interests that support them. These interests care only about preserving political advantages, not free and fair elections.
“As I considered who to appoint to this committee, I kept coming back to the record of service of Sheila Suess Kennedy, and I felt she has the proper background to provide a fair and balanced voice that will contribute substantially toward enacting reforms,” he continued. “I am pleased she has consented to take part.”
A native of Indianapolis, Kennedy has taught Law and Public Policy at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) since 1998. She served In the administration of former Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut from 1977-80, and ran for Congress in 1980. Kennedy also served for six years as executive director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union.
“I am gratified to have the opportunity to help address a problem that is, I think, insufficiently appreciated,” Kennedy said. “Democratic systems depend upon the integrity of elections, and that integrity requires giving all voters an equal say in the outcome of those elections to the extent possible.”
Other members of the committee include Indiana House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Bartlett from Indianapolis and State Rep. Justin Moed (D-Indianapolis).