LANSING, Mich. — Drafts of newly drawn Michigan political maps could split Ottawa County, link Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo together and put two incumbent West Michigan congressmen in the same district.
The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission voted to move forward drafts of 10 new, non-gerrymandered political maps Monday.
After a 2018 ballot proposal was adopted into law, 13 randomly-selected commissioners were tasked with drawing maps that took into account equal representation, partisan fairness and community interests.
Three different state House and Senate maps and four 13-district U.S. House maps will now go to public hearings.
The plans could shake things up here in West Michigan.
The Grand Rapids-based seat, currently the 3rd Congressional District held by Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) will likely lose its link to the cities of Ionia and Battle Creek. The seat will still center around Grand Rapids but three drafts have the district stretching slightly more west to encompass the whole city and surrounding suburbs.
Though one draft has a bigger change, tying Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids together and creating a long skinny district stretching from Walker down to Vicksburg, making a Republican-leaning district, more blue.
The U.S. House maps also have incumbent GOP Congressmen Bill Huizenga and Fred Upton in the same district, as a focus on keeping lakeshore communities together, ties their respective homes of Zeeland and St. Joseph in one district.
Though unlike Michigan's legislature, members of Congress don't actually have to live in the district they represent, just the state.
In another plan, Ottawa County is split, putting some communities in a district with Muskegon and majority mid-Michigan counties. The state Senate maps also have parts of Ottawa County, like Allendale and Georgetown Township in separate districts.
Both drew criticism from some public commenters Monday, who urged the commission to consider keeping the county together.
“It's crucial to Ottawa County based on the watersheds,” says Ottawa County Drain Commissioner Joe Bush.
“We have the Grand River, we have Lake Michigan, we have the shoreline, we have dredging, we have the infrastructure issues going on. Ottawa County is by far probably one of the largest and fastest growing counties in the last 10 years according to our census reports, and I think we need to keep it whole,” he added.
Commissioners could add additional drafts in the coming days, if you would like to see them in full or comment on them, click here.
Public hearings on the drafts will begin next week, with a stop in Grand Rapids planned for Friday October 22.