By Sergio Martínez-Beltrán: For Entire Post, Click Here…
It’s a Thursday evening and the parking lot of the Treetops Resort convention center is packed.
Inside, about 100 people are sitting in rows of socially-distanced chairs before the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, the group tasked with redrawing state legislative and congressional districts that will govern Michigan elections for the next decade.
Daren Rubingh, a dairy farmer from Antrim County, walked toward a microphone in the middle of the room and laid out his case: Farmers should be clustered together in new districts.
“I just finished milking the cows and had a 15-minute drive to this location,” Rubingh, 29, the chair of the Antrim County Republican Party told commissioners.
“Local farmers get together to discuss how we can benefit agriculture in Antrim County, and northern Michigan by working on issues such as property rights, taxes, environmental quality.”
The comment is one of hundreds the 13-member commission has heard in the past five weeks, as it travels the state to seek input on the complicated and polarizing process of how to shape political districts that don’t unfairly advantage a particular party. Hearings continue through July 1.
The public feedback — which ranged from using school districts as building blocks of the new maps and keeping religious communities together to taking into consideration the urban-rural divide — will be considered when the group creates the new districts.