Countywide Elected Offices Are the Key to a Decade of Fair Elections
2018’s Proposal 2 was a great victory for democracy in Michigan. The new redistricting commission will bring about fair, unbiased political district lines at the congressional and state legislative level beginning in 2022. But county level districts are still not safe from the threat of partisan gerrymandering.
Counties in Michigan with a population of greater than 70,000 people (like Kalamazoo) have an Apportionment Commission that draws district lines for county commission seats. This takes place in the year following each census. The Apportionment Commission is made up of 5 people:
- County Democratic Party Chair
- County Republican Party Chair
- County Clerk (Current: Tim Snow, R)
- County Prosecutor (Current: Jeff Getting, D)
- County Treasurer (Current: Mary Balkema, R)
Historically, Republicans have dominated countywide offices in Kalamazoo. They have also dominated the redistricting process and drawn commission lines accordingly to their own party and incumbents’ advantage. The result of 2020 elections for countywide office will determine whether that practice can continue, or if we will see fair district lines in the 2020s.
During the 2010s, Democrats made huge gains in Kalamazoo County and currently hold a 9-2 majority on the county commission in addition to the countywide offices of Drain Commissioner, Prosecutor and Sheriff. The majority of Kalamazoo County residents in 2020 now are Democrats.
With important national, state and local elections happening this year, it is imperative that we collectively keep our eye on the ball with regard to the clerk, prosecutor and treasurer elections. Defeat could haunt us for a decade. We must win these seats – with candidates who are truly Democrats and have a track record of standing up for shared Democratic values – to avoid another decade of Republican gerrymandering on our county commission. You can help today by referring a strong candidate for one of those 3 offices to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by making a contribution or signing up to volunteer. For more information on how the county redistricting process works, see this helpful resource put out by League of Women Voters during the last redistricting process.