The Midland County Allocation Committee is set to vote on a new allocation for the seven county commissioner districts, based on the results of the 2020 U.S. Census.

Midland County Democratic Party Chairman Jennifer Austin presented a second allocation plan at the Midland County Allocation Committee meeting on Wednesday, September 29 at the Midland County Services Building. A different plan was presented at the committee’s previous meeting on September 15th.

The September 29 meeting, held in the Council of Commissioners room on the first floor, lasted 70 minutes and brought together 15-20 members of the public. All five committee members were in attendance: Midland County Clerk Ann Manary, Midland County District Attorney J. Dee Brooks, Midland County Treasurer Cathy Lunsford, Austin, and Midland County Republican Party Chairman Cathy Leikhim.

The distribution criteria are that the districts must be contiguous, compact and square; cantons should generally not be combined with cities; townships, towns and villages will generally not be divided; constituencies will only be divided to meet population standards; no partisan political advantage will be given to any particular party; and the population gap between the commissioner districts must be less than 11.9%.

Currently, the seven members of the Midland County Council of Commissioners are Republicans.


While showing the map she drafted to the rest of the committee on the big screen, Austin explained that her 7.11% population gap is significantly smaller than the 9.78% population gap of the map from at the September 15th meeting.

“The Sept. 15 map provides five districts with a Republican lean and two that are competitive, and of those two that are competitive, one has a slight Democratic lean and one has a slight Republican lean,” Austin continued. “The map I created provides the same five Republican-leaning districts – 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. The difference is that by changing the way we configured (districts) 6 and 7, it makes them both competitive districts with a slight Democratic lean, which helps to mitigate the unfair advantage we were giving Republicans, as almost all districts have a Republican lean.

“I think Midland County voters deserve to have fair cards and less partisan and also have less population deviation issues,” Austin said.

The committee will then meet on Monday, October 6 at 1 p.m. at the same location. Manary, who chairs the committee, said the committee hopes to vote at that meeting to approve one of two proposed plans to be sent to the state of Michigan.

If the vote does not take place at the October 6 meeting, the committee will meet again on Wednesday October 8 at 9:00 a.m. to hold the vote.

The committee will also meet on Wednesday, October 20 at 1 p.m.

A few members of the public present spoke in favor of the distribution map proposed by Austin.

“Your decision affects 10 years of voting and the possibility of having Democrats on the county commissioners council,” Molly Morrissey said.

“Is the county gerrymandered like the state has been?” Claudia Warren said. “When one party has the loudest voice, they can dominate the discussion. (The county is gerrymander so that certain matters are not discussed?”)

Participants Tina Jacobs and Eric Anders both said Dispatch Committee meetings need to be better publicized.

“Putting the meeting on the (Midland County) website would go a long way,” Jacobs said.

“It wasn’t mentioned in the county bulletin,” Anders said. “This is a critical question. Nobody is asking voters (to give their opinion). It seems very one-sided.”

In response, Manary said written notices of the September 29 meeting were posted in the County Building and a notice was submitted to the Daily News. But she said she would also make an effort to publicize upcoming committee meetings online.

The next three committee meetings are now in the Midland County October newsletter online at https://www.co.midland.mi.us/.

The redistribution committee started meeting on June 2 and has met at least once a month since then.

Also at the September 29 meeting, the committee discussed whether Midland County should sign the petition to the Michigan Court of Appeals filed by Livingston and Branch Counties. The committee decided not to sign the petition.

Midland Town Clerk Erica Armstrong and members of her staff attended the meeting and provided advice to the committee on how the allocation will affect the polling stations.


Source link