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Final MICRC Map Has No Incumbents In Same District

March 5, 2024

After one vote, the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) on Wednesday selected its preferred state House map for Metro Detroit’s Districts 1-14 that, as it turns out, doesn’t pit any current House incumbents against each other in the 2024 election.

The Motown Sound FCE1 will need the blessing of a three-judge federal panel before it can be officially adopted. The map saw the backing of 10 commissioners on the first vote, with four Democrats, four independents, and two Republicans voting to support it. Republican Commissioner Rhonda Lange backed the Water Lily map, and Rebecca Szetela and Erin Wagner backed the map drawn only by Szetela.

“I just want to tip my hat off to you. I can see the stress the decision that you were wrestling with and going through . . . You were all concerned. You were invested in the project and you gave it your best. The state of Michigan is really in your debt for what you accomplished,” said MICRC Executive Director Edward Woods III.

The map would make changes to the seven court-ordered districts, which are House Districts 1, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, and 14. The Motown Sound E1 map also changes House Districts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 10, and 13.

As it turns out, none of the districts put any House incumbent against another incumbent, this includes the winner of the race between Democrat Mai Xiong and Republican Ronald Singer, which Xiong is expected to win due to the district’s heavy Democratic lean.

Seven districts have voting age Black populations over 50%. District 4 has an 89.6% Black population. Others are proposed districts 5, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 16.

Only District 13 would be marginally competitive for Republicans in the 2024 election. The district, which is made up of parts of Roseville, Warren and St. Clair Shores, has a 55.4% Democratic base and a 44.6% Republican base.

Every other district has a Democratic base of 61% and higher.

The original Hickory map that the courts ruled unconstitutional had seven total districts made up of a majority Black population. The House districts drawn in 2011 had 10 majority Black districts. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, speaking for the plaintiffs in the suit that spurred this change, said the map “does not provide the greatest number of black majority seats with the highest black voting age population within the city of Detroit proper out of the 10 maps reflected in the MICRC portal.

She said the maps secure incumbency protection, but could have done better on the Black representation front.

Under the final MICRC map, Rep. Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit) is in District 1, Rep. Tullio Liberati, Jr. (D-Allen Park) in District 2, Rep. Alabas A. Farhat (D-Dearborn) in District 3, Rep. Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit) in District 4, Rep. Regina Weiss (D-Oak Park) in District 5, Rep. Natalie Price (D-Berkley) in District 6, Rep. Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck) in District 7, Rep. Helena Scott (D-Detroit) in District 8, Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit) in District 9, Rep. Veronica A. Paiz (D-Harper Woods) in District 10, Rep. Donavan McKinney (D-Detroit) in District 11, Rep. Kimberly Edwards (D-Eastpointe) in District 12, Possibly Xiong in District 13 and Rep. Mike McFall (D-Hazel Park) in District 14.

The Motown Sound E1 map was based on Commissioner Brittni Kellom’s original Motown Sound and Spirit of Detroit map that received positive feedback from Detroiters during the public comment period. Grosse Pointe and communities along the lakeshore were the most upset.

“I think this is the point where we have a balance of what the court asked us to do, what are our seven criteria, and what are the people of Detroit saying,” Kellom said.

Kellom said the Grosse Pointe neighborhoods were pretty exclusive already and had enough political clout without having the entire district they wanted, especially when compared to other districts like Melvindale, which was tweaked in the new map Tuesday.

“This is an (area where) you can’t even sit in their park unless you have a house there. So, sorry Grosse Pointers. I know you’re going to beat me up for that, but I’m just being honest,” Kellom said.

The Motown Sound FCE1 map, unlike the current map that was ruled unconstitutional by a federal three-judge panel, has two districts that are entirely within the city of Detroit. Dearborn will now have two House districts as opposed to being part of three. Gone are the sliver of bacon districts of Districts 5-8, that inexplicably stretched as far as Birmingham into the center of the city of Detroit.

The maps would still need to be accepted by the federal judges on March 1, and at the same time the U.S. Supreme Court would need to reject an appeal request.

The MICRC was recently granted a 60-day extension by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh that gives the commission lawyer until May 4 to file the argument as to why the top court has jurisdiction to appeal the decision made in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

“If the Supreme Court reverses the District Court on appeal, then the Hickory plan would in fact go back into effect, and the remedial plan that the commission just adopted would be replaced by the Hickory plan,” said MICRC attorney Nate FINK.

The court-imposed deadline for the House maps in the Agee v. Benson case was set so they could be ready before the April 23 candidate filing deadline for the Aug. 6 primary.

Commissioner Donna Callaghan asked what would happen if the commission liked the Motown Sound FCE1 map better than the Hickory map and just wanted to drop the entire appeal.

Fink said the entire resolution that was needed would be to prevent the argument from the Donald Agee lawyers that if the District Court were to accept the maps, that there wouldn’t be the argument that the entire case wasn’t needed.

He said the commission could in the future drop the appeal and go with the new Motown Sound map.

Also, any Supreme Court decision could be “many months, if not over a year.” The next MICRC meeting was set for March 21.


Article courtesy MIRS News for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog newsletter

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