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New redistricting commissioners chosen

Michigan Independent Redistricting Commission
Michigan Independent Redistricting Commission

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission inched closer to a return to full strength Wednesday. That’s after two Democrats and one Republican were randomly chosen to fill corresponding vacancies left by three resigning members.

The new picks are the Republican-affiliated Marcus Muldoon of Lincoln Park, and the Democratic-affiliated Donna Callaghan of Farmington Hills and Elaine Andrade of Imlay City.

The commission is responsible for drawing Michigan’s legislative district maps. The candidates chosen Wednesday came from a list of those who originally applied in 2020 to serve with the group.

“I believe strongly in our democracy, a democracy that truly represents the people. The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission is our opportunity to get back to the constitutional ideals of democratic representation of the citizens of Michigan,” Andrade wrote in her application.

Now that Andrade and the others have been picked, MICRC Executive Director Edward Woods III said the next step is following up.

“The Michigan Department of State will check to make sure they’re still eligible to serve on the commission and then … but also do they even want to serve on the commission,” Woods said, noting that years had passed since the trio first applied.

Woods said if they no longer want the job, another drawing would take place as soon as possible. If interest and eligibility remain, the three could be sworn into the commission as soon as this week.

All three would join the redistricting commission during a turbulent time.

A federal court recently ordered the commission to redraw over a dozen metro-Detroit state House and Senate districts.

The commission discussed its options, including an appeal, going forward with its legal team during a closed session at a meeting last week.

Going into that closed session, three members shared that they opposed appealing the court ruling. The three were no longer present once the commission resumed meeting in public, meaning there wasn’t a quorum of members present to vote on any action.

Meanwhile, all parties in the case are due back in court Friday to figure out how to proceed.

Woods said contending with the case is just one item of business the commission needs to take care of quickly.

Other orders of business include replacing the commission’s federal Voting Rights Act counsel. Bruce Adelson, who guided the MICRC through the map drawing process and whose advice had been criticized in the court’s opinion, resigned last week.

There’s also setting a 2024 meeting schedule.

“We have to have somewhat of a plan. This is when we’re going to be available, which meetings will be remote, which meetings will be in the Detroit metro area since that’s where the 13 districts are in question. And all of that … has to be planned out,” Woods said.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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