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MICRC Sets Up To Redraw 7 House Districts Without Salary Increase

January 16, 2024

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) set the elements it needs to start redrawing the seven state House districts ordered by the federal court, and would do it without a pay raise.

Commissioner Juanita Curry made a motion that the MICRC should be paid 35 percent of the Governor’s salary for the three weeks it would take for them to redraw House districts 1, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, and 14, which would put them back to the level they were at when they first drew those districts.

“We have been drawing our salary for some time, and really not having a lot to do with that. So, as I view it, it’s kind of like we’ve been pre-paid for what we’re going to have to do now,” said Commissioner Steve Lett. “It is simply we need to step up, do the maps. We don’t need to poke the bear at this time.”

The motion to raise their salary failed with seven commissioners voting no. However, they did vote to reinstate the full-time salary and position for Executive Director Edward Woods III, retroactively to Nov. 27.

Along with the salaries, the commissioners set up the pieces they would need to start redrawing the district maps before the deadline of Feb. 2. The deadline was agreed and imposed by the orders issued from the three federal judges.

The 13 commissioners would be meeting Jan. 16, 17, 18 remotely from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with an hour lunch to start the process. They would then meet in person at Huntington Place, formerly Cobo Hall and TCF Center, on Jan. 22 and 23. Then Jan. 24, 25 and possibly 26 at the Cadillac Place in Detroit.

The final week would be remote from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1.

The map drawing software would have all racial data turned off for the redraw but would still contain all the political information.

Kent Stigall with Election Data Services Inc., a Virginia-based redistricting consulting company, said the area they needed to redraw contained 640,338 people.

“Which is exactly seven districts, so you can do it. It’s just that you’re limited,” Stigall said.

One of the questions posed by Election Data Services Inc. President Kimball Brace was what the commissioners wanted to do regarding the other districts that were not court ordered, specifically House Districts 9 and 13. House District 13 would be going through a special election to fill the seat left by Warren Mayor Lori Stone.

The question posed by Brace was if the Commission wanted to remove those districts to create a larger portion of area they could work with, rather than work around them.

Curry said from past experience that when they were redrawing one area, they couldn’t do it without moving everything else around it, but she wondered how they could fix the areas if they had to work around them.

“That is one of the interesting things and tasks you have in front of you,” Brace said.

Along with presentations about the mapping software and salary discussions, the Commission voted to allow Woods to hire a temporary assistant for the three weeks they would be meeting for the redraw.

They also approved letting Woods set up the contracts for the Commission to meet at Huntington Place, Cadillac Place, and the other various contracts he would need to accomplish.

During the meeting Thursday, the MICRC also dealt with two complaints filed against Commissioner Anthony Eid and Commissioner Rebecca Szetela.

They dealt with the first complaint that was filed by Szetela and Commissioner Rhonda Lange against Eid by voting to move it for discussion during a meeting on Feb. 8.

The board also voted to dismiss a complaint that was filed against Szetela by former Commissioner Dustin Witjes, because he didn’t sign or date the complaint.

Commissioner Brittni Kellom voted in each case to have the complaints put aside.

“I don’t think we should be in the practice of vacating commissioners. I do think commissioner behavior during meetings and outside of meetings and in writing should be addressed,” Kellom said.


Article courtesy MIRS News for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog newsletter

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