LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan's Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission adopted new maps for the state's 13 congressional districts, 38 state Senate seats and 110 state House seats for the next 10 years.
The 13-member panel consists of four democrats, four republicans and five non-partisan members.
This is the first time an independent commission has drawn these maps, thanks to a ballot initiative in 2018, which was supported by more than 60 percent of Michiganders. The process was previously conducted by whichever political party controlled the state legislature. For the past two decades, it has been controlled by Republicans.
"The personal experience that I had was making sure that we were listening and trying to incorporate the public comment," said Commissioner MC Rothhorn, a Democrat from Lansing who sits on the panel.
Nancy Wang, the Executive Director of the grassroots organization "Voters Not Politicians" helped kickstart this initiative, and said approval of the maps is "a cause for celebration."
"These maps were adopted by commissioners who are Republicans and Democrats and independents all working together," Wang said. "That's really not something that we are seeing a lot of these days with our politicians."
U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, who currently represents Michigan's 8th congressional district, will be seeking re-election in the new 7th congressional district.
This new district will encompass about two-thirds of Slotkin's current district, including all of Livingston, Shiawassee, Ingham and Clinton counties and nearly all of Eaton County. However, the new district no longer includes some northern parts of Oakland County, where Slotkin's family farm is located.
“The independent commission that drew these lines really listened to people in the tri-county area," Slotkin said. "It really listened to people who said, 'Hey, it makes no sense to have Ingham County, Clinton County and Eaton County in three different congressional districts.' So that was due to the activism and engagement of local people.”
Slotkin said she believes that this new district will make the district's representation more comprehensive.
"Lansing was always the biggest city in my district, but it was weird to only have the Ingham County part of it," Slotkin said. "So I think it's going to make it easier because it really makes Lansing and the Lansing job market and industry really central to the district."
Earlier this year, state Rep. Sarah Anthony and former state representative and East Lansing Mayor Sam Singh announced they would be running for state Senate in Michigan's 23rd District, which currently includes most of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason and Leslie.
Anthony will now be running in the new state Senate District 21 and Singh will now be running in District 28.
The new 21st state Senate District will no longer include East Lansing, but will include more areas west of Lansing, such as Grand Ledge, Charlotte and Olivet.
“I'm excited that that district includes my hometown of Lansing, as well as the majority of Ingham County and Eaton County," Anthony said. "This new district will always also include farmers and small business owners in both suburban and urban areas. So I think our platform will remain the same, which is really just sticking up for working class people.”
The new 28th state Senate District will include East Lansing, St. Johns and Owosso.
“You know, when you take a look at the broader region, Eaton County, Clinton County, Ingham County... we all have a lot in common along with Shiawassee. County," Singh said. "And so the fact that they're split up is not a big concern to me. I think the issues are the same when you take a look at these communities.”
Singh and his family reside in East Lansing, and he said he planned on running in whichever district included his hometown.
Some state legislators were not pleased with the new maps.
State Rep. Graham Filler currently represents Michigan's 93rd House District, composed of Clinton County and portions of Gratiot County. He described the new state House maps as "a little bit of a mess."
In the new state House map, Clinton County will be split up into three different districts.
“To watch this commission just sort of slice and dice Clinton County, all in the name of quote-unquote, partisan fairness... I find that to be remarkably sad, and I don't think it's going to lead to good governance going forward," Filler said.
Filler said he believes the new map will cause confusion among Clinton County residents.
“Everyone who lives in mid-Michigan knows that Clinton County is a clear community of interest," Filler said. "We have county commissioners. We have a county road commission. We have agricultural influences in every single city, village, township in Clinton County. And all of that was ignored by the Commission."
The new maps are already facing legal challenges, but Commission Chair Brittni Kellom said she is confident the maps will withstand litigation.
“Be confident in the process and how you saw it play out," Kellom said at a recent press conference.
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