About a dozen people attended Saturday’s public hearing to give input on redrawing districts of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners. The meeting was held at the Ypsilanti Township hall, and was the second of three public hearings scheduled by the county apportionment commission, a five-member group charged with adopting a redistricting plan based on 2010 census data.
Three members of the Washtenaw County apportionment commission, which is tasked with redrawing districts for the county board of commissioners based on 2010 census data. From left: Cleveland Chandler, Washtenaw County Democratic Party chair; county treasurer Catherine McClary; and Mark Boonstra, Washtenaw County Republican Committee chair. Other members are county clerk Larry Kestenbaum and Brian Mackie, the county's prosecuting attorney. (Photos by the writer.)
Eight people addressed the commission during the hearing, which lasted about an hour. Some argued for a reduction in the current 11 districts, saying it would save costs and make for a better functioning board. Others suggested keeping the same number or increasing the number of districts slightly, for better representation.
It’s likely there will be some changes of district lines, even if the number of districts remains the same. The county’s population grew 6.8%, from 322,895 people in 2000 to 344,791 people in 2010, with some parts showing dramatic population shifts. Ypsilanti’s population decreased 12.6%, while several townships – including Saline, Scio and Webster – saw double-digit growth. The city of Ann Arbor accounts for about a third of the county’s population – its population dropped 0.6% to 113,934. [.pdf file of population data for Washtenaw County]
Commission members indicated that they haven’t yet completed any redistricting proposals, though Larry Kestenbaum – the county clerk and chair of the apportionment commission – said he’s developing one for 12 districts. One speaker at the hearing expressed disappointment that proposals weren’t yet available, saying he had hoped to give feedback on specific redistricting plans.
The apportionment commission met for the first time on March 31, when members set a schedule for the process. Its members, determined by state statute, are: The county clerk (Larry Kestenbaum), county treasurer (Catherine McClary), county prosecuting attorney (Brian Mackie), and the chairs of both the county Republican and Democratic parties (Mark Boonstra and Cleveland Chandler). All but Boonstra are Democrats.
Saturday’s public hearing had a lower turnout than the first hearing, which took place on April 9 at the Pittsfield Township hall – 16 people addressed the commission then, according to draft minutes of the meeting.
The next public hearing is set for Thursday, April 21 at 5:30 p.m. at Webster Township hall, 5665 Webster Church Road. A week later, on April 28, the commission meets again and is expected to present redistricting plans and possibly select one. That meeting, which will include time for public commentary, begins at 5:30 p.m. at the county administration building’s lower-level conference room, 200 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor. [Full Story]