Today was the 2nd meeting of the redistricting process in Livingston County. While there's a lot of hype about redistricting at the state level, the process at county level is largely ignored, but just as important. The redistricting process for county commission districts goes on every ten years much like the state rep/congressional redistricting process.
The process at county level is different. Commissioners do not redistrict their own seats here. The redistricting committee is made up of the County Prosecutor, Clerk, and Treasurer, as well as the GOP and Democrat Party Chairs of the county. In Livingston County, the committee is David Morse, Margaret Dunleavy, Dianne Hardy, Lana Theis, and Jordan Genso. What makes this different than a normal partisan redistricting is that in addition to party chairs, the other committee members have to work with the commissioners in a business setting.
It's early to tell which maps are gaining momentum. Right now there's three nonpartisan maps, three democrat maps, and a republican map currently in the works that I haven't see yet. The guidelines are actually broad for county level in a legal sense. There's a 11.9% variation allowed in the districts. The other requirement is that the maps aren't redrawn for clear partisan advantage. Those are based from a court case, I believe involving Clinton County. I have to look that up in more detail.
Whatever happens, I expect the democrats to make a bigtime snit if one of their maps (which I think is a big gerrymander) is not adopted. There's a set up attempt, at least for a PR standpoint going on here. I was told that at the first meeting, that the democrats filmed this on cell-phone camera. Well, the camera was back today. It didn't catch anything shady outside of influencing Genso who IMO was playing for that camera a bit. What I found more interesting is the nitpicking with the minutes. Part of it was minor and no big deal. The other part was pushing something misleading. Genso wanted the minutes to state that his map only split three townships. That part is true. However, it split Hamburg three ways, and Genoa four ways - but those don't count as splits in his mind. He didn't want that in. The committee let him have his way with the minutes, which I don't have a problem with. There's more important things to argue about.
By law, a split is a split is a split. The republicans are going to counter a map with five overall splits, but it will split a precinct, which Genso did not like very much. Precincts are supposed to be only split when "necessary", but the question is what is "necessary." If this map has five total breaks, is that the necessity, especially if it does a good job at reasonable shaped districts. I haven't seen this one yet, so I can't fully comment. The latest dem map has 8 splits. The nonpartisan maps have 7 (shaped most like current map), 11, and 5 splits. Splits aside, the shape of the districts is also a factor. Nonpartisan one keeps them fairly close together in area. Nonpartisan two and three spreads them out a bit, as do the democrat maps that I've seen so far. Right now, I don't know how the GOP map will be on the shapes of the districts.
There's going to be at least two more maps pushed. One more democrat map, and the GOP map. We'll know more next month about which map will be approved. I think it will be decided next month, but I can't guarantee it.
This is an interesting process. It's also important. Many state reps were formerly county commissioners. Bill Rogers got his start as a county commissioner in Genoa Township. Today's commissioner is tomorrow's state rep.