(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)

 

    The Shiawassee County Apportionment Committee met for a second time on Monday morning, Sept. 13 in the Surbeck Building in Corunna. The Shiawassee County redistricting process began in early August with the organizational meeting of the five-person committee, which includes Shiawassee County Clerk Caroline Wilson as chair, Shiawassee County Treasurer Julie Sorenson as secretary, Prosecutor Scott Koerner, Democratic Party Chairman Mark Zacharda and Republican Party Chairman Mary Nordbeck.

   The committee first voted to approve rules of procedure with some discussion on per diems. Wilson, Sorenson, Koerner and Zacharda all expressed a willingness to waive the meeting per diems, allowable under procedures, for serving on the apportionment committee, which would amount to $65 per meeting plus travel expenses. Nordbeck confirmed she still wanted the per diems, though Wilson offered she would reach out to new county attorney Eric Morris for assurance on the legality related to per diems to non-elected officials. Morris replaced previous attorney Ryan Painter just a few weeks ago.

   As part of the meeting, approval was needed regarding the number of commissioners for Shiawassee County for the next 10 years. The approval was needed to meet the tight deadlines set for the committee based off of incoming census data. Currently, Shiawassee County has seven commissioners including Shiawassee County Commissioner/Chair Greg Brodeur (R-Dist. 2), Marlene Webster (R-Dist. 1), Gary Holzhausen (R-Dist. 3), Brandon Marks (R-Dist. 4), Jeremy Root (R-Dist. 5), Cindy Garber (R-Dist. 6) and John Plowman (R-Dist. 7).

   Zacharda offered the committee data he had gathered for a potential move to a nine-commissioner board. Most of his arguments for a nine-commissioner board were based on demographics from other counties, demonstrating several examples of counties where commissioners serve much smaller districts. Zacharda’s information highlighted that a nine-commissioner board might allow each commissioner to be “more responsive to their constituency because each commissioner would represent fewer people.” His research offered that each commissioner would represent fewer townships, cities, towns, etc., allowing for less meetings and making commissioner seats more attractive to those wishing to serve. He also added there would be a “reduced chance for cliques to form on the board to avoid the corruption we’ve been experiencing. When commissioners act only in the best interest of their constituency and not the special or political interests of their ‘good ol’ boys and girls’ voting bloc, democracy is enhanced and the citizens of Shiawassee are better served.” The only con Zacharda provided was the possibility of paying for nine, instead of seven commissioners.

   The committee seemed in complete agreement not to reduce the seven-seat board, which was an alternative possibility. Committee members read and discussed Zacharda’s data, with consideration about ballot splits and avoiding complications in the election process. The vote went with three in favor of keeping the seven-seat board. The two no votes were Zacharda and Wilson.

      The apportionment happens every 10 years following the census. Included in the process will be both state and U.S. representatives. State senate districts will be redistributed, as well. Michigan’s 13 U.S. representatives and 148 state legislators are all elected from districts, with district lines redrawn or recalculated every 10 years following census data. Federal law requires districts to have nearly equal populations, not based on discrimination.

   Once the committee has all of the census data, the group will have exactly 60 days in total to submit a plan to the state.

   The next committee meeting is planned for Tuesday, Sept. 21 at 9 a.m. with a meeting directly following the next week on Tuesday, Sept. 28.

   The committee meetings are live streamed and available via YouTube.

Shiawassee Apportionment Committee Votes to Remain at Seven Commissioner Board Seats was last modified: September 21st, 2021 by Karen Elford