MEMBERS OF THE REDISTRICTING COMMITTEE for Shiawassee County include (from left) Mark Zacharda of the Shiawassee County Democratic Party, Prosecutor Scott Koerner, Shiawassee County Clerk Caroline Wilson, Shiawassee County Treasurer Julie Sorenson and Mary Nordbeck of the Shiawassee County Republican Party. The committee voted that Wilson would chair with Sorenson acting as secretary.

   The committee is shown in the commissioner chambers in the Surbeck Building on Tuesday morning.

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)


   The Shiawassee County redistricting process officially began with an organizational meeting of the apportionment committee on Tuesday morning, Aug. 3 in Corunna. However, per Shiawassee County Clerk Caroline Wilson, any continuation is limited until the U.S. Census Bureau data is sent in at some point in September.

   The five-person committee includes Wilson, who was voted in as chair, along with Shiawassee County Treasurer Julie Sorenson, who was voted in as secretary. Other members include Prosecutor Scott Koerner, Democratic Party Chairman Mark Zacharda and Republican Party Chairman Mary Nordbeck. The meeting included distributing committee materials and adopting guidelines.

   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.

   Shiawassee County is divided into its own seven county districts. Each district has a commissioner on the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners. In decades gone, the county has had as many as 11 commissioners. The more recent seven-district map was based on the 2011 census of just over 70,000 county residents, allowing for a population of roughly 10,000 per district.

   Wilson shared she thinks the population is likely to be “pretty close” to where it has been in recent years. She stated the committee can reduce the county board to as few as five or increase it to as many as 21, with a possibility of 21 commissioners representing 21 districts – not a likely scenario.

   Commissioner John Plowman (R-Dist. 7), who has been involved with the county for 18 years, offered his advice during discussion, sharing that the seven-district plan gives each commissioner “something to do.” A five-commissioner idea causes quorum problems if commissioners are absent. When the commissioners were previously set at a nine-district plan, there was not as much for them to work on considering the county only currently has four committees for commissioner involvement.

   Once the census data is released to the county in September, the committee will have exactly 60 days to submit a plan to the state. After the plan is submitted, a registered voter is only allowed 30 days to petition the Court of Appeals to determine legalities.

   The 2011 Apportionment Plan included District 1 with a population of 9,870, District 2 with a population of 9,875, District 3 with a population of 10,246, District 4 with a population of 9,864, District 5 with a population of 10,358, District 6 with a population of 10,110 and District 7 with a population of 10,325. It can be deduced there will be a shift in numbers based on the new census data.

   Some of the apportionment guidelines the committee will have to consider will allow for all districts to be only single-member districts with nearly equal population numbers, all districts must be adjacent, all districts should be nearly square where possible – and townships and cities can only be combined into districts to meet population criteria. Also, precincts can only be divided to meet population standards and can’t be drawn to any political advantage.

   The next meeting is set for 9 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 13 in the Surbeck Building. For those unable to attend, the meeting will be live streamed and available on YouTube.

Shiawassee County Redistricting Starts with Organizational Meeting was last modified: August 9th, 2021 by Karen Elford