Saugatuck/Douglas Commercial Record

Gerrymandering lives, county chair complains

By Scott Sullivan
Allegan County Commission chair Jim Storey (R-Holland) is not impressed by redistricting that divvies the county among three U.S. Congressional districts and places Saugatuck-Douglas in a state House district that truly resembles a salamander.
The latter (see map) slithers down the Lake Michigan coast all the ways south to New Buffalo. The term “gerrymander” combines the amphibian’s elongated shape with politician Elbridge Gerry, who pioneered manipulating district shapes in favor of his party.
In his Jan. 2 newsletter Storey writes:
“The so-called Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission completed its apparent goal to obliterate county lines when it adopted state legislature and congressional district maps on Dec. 28.
“The congressional map creates a district that places U.S. Reps. Fred Upton and Bill Huizenga in the same district and splits Allegan County among three state senate districts.
“Its state house plan is exhibit one in gerrymandering that the MICRC was sold to Michigan voters in 2018 as an answer to gerrymandering by the elected legislature. Under the adopted Michigan House plan, Allegan County is divided into six districts, including one (No. 79) that truly resembles a salamander as it snakes down the Lake Michigan coast from Saugatuck in the north to the Indiana state line in the south, crossing two county lines in the process.
“In the county’s northwest corner, Laketown township is joined with both parts of Holland city, Park and Holland townships in Ottawa County in District 86.
“The largest portion of the county is in the new 43rd district that includes Fillmore, Overisel, Salem and Dorr townships with central county townships such as Heath, Allegan and Hopkins along with the eastern townships of Wayland and Martin. The 43rd also includes several Barry County townships and crosses into Eaton County.
Leighton Township is severed from its Allegan neighbors in a new 70th district that includes units in Kent and Barry counties. At the county’s southern edge, Lee and Cheshire townships, the City of Otsego and apparently part of Otsego Township are in the 39th district with most of Van Buren county along with an area around Coloma in Berrien county.
The Sixth District into which Allegan is apportioned is the 42nd that includes Plainwell, and Gun Plain Township and, apparently, Watson plus a large tract of Kalamazoo County south to include Schoolcraft and Vicksburg.
“Allegan isn’t the only county abused by the MICRC: one central, lower peninsula district crosses five county lines,” Storey says.

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