The members of the independent, anti-gerrymandering commission approved by voters in 2018 were announced today, putting an end to the highly partisan wheeling and dealing with politicians drawing election districts for the state Legislature and Michigan’s congressional delegation for decades.
The random drawing of names fulfilled the requirements for four Republicans, four Democrats and five independent voters. Here are the members of the independent commission:
- Douglas Clark, 73: Rochester Hills, Republican
- Juanita Curry, 72: Detroit, Democrat
- James Decker, 59: Fowlerville, Independent
- Anthony Eid, 27: Orchard Lake, Independent
- Brittni Kellom, 33: Detroit, Democrat
- Rhonda Lange, 47: Reed City, Republican
- Steven Lett, 73: Interlochen, Independent
- Cynthia Orton, 54: Battle Creek, Republican
- M. Rothhorn: 48: Lansing, Democrat
- Janice Vallette, 68: Highland,Independent
- Erin Wagner, 54: Charlotte, Republican
- Richard Weiss, 73: Saginaw, Independent
- Dustin Witjes, 31: Ypsilanti, Democrat
The 13-member Redistricting Commission went through a series of vetting after state officials received an astounding 9,300 applications for this new redistricting regimen. Applicants were narrowed to 200 through a process that focused on demographics and geography to reflect Michigan’s overall political culture.
The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Michigan House and Senate rejected 20 of the 200 semifinalists, setting up today’s random selection in a lottery-style protocol.
Prior to the 2018 vote, Michigan had been labeled as on of the most gerrymandered states in the nation, based on the partisan, zig-zagging boundary lines drawn by GOP politicians, with Democrats winning a majority of votes for the state Senate and House while capturing a distinct minority of seats in the two legislative chambers.
According to Christopher Warshaw, a political scientist at George Washington University, Democrats in Michigan and several other states would probably need to win the popular vote by more than 10 percent to win control of the state Legislature.
According to The Detroit News, of the 13 individuals selected for the redistricting reform panel, three appeared to have made political contributions in the last 10 years, according to public campaign finance records. Only one appeared to have made a contribution to a candidate.
The Michigan petition drive for independent redistricting received considerable national media attention based on its spectacular success as the 2018 ballot proposal passed by nearly a 2-1 margin.
“It’s exciting to see that the fair, impartial and transparent process voters envisioned is working as it was intended,” said Nancy Wang, executive director of Voters Not Politicians said in a press release.
In the coming months, commission members will engage in periods of both full-time and part-time work, and they’ll be paid about $40,000 during a process that will be completed in time for the 2022 elections.
The map making for new political boundaries will require a majority vote of the commission for approval, including a bipartisan provision that requires at least two commissioners who affiliate with each major party.