Every 10 years, political boundaries are redrawn to reflect the population changes that occurred in that decade as reflected in the census. This is that year, and the Livingston County Apportionment Commission will consider redrawn county maps for 9 districts at its next meeting, which is set for 9 a.m. Monday, Sept. 27.
By state law, the commission includes the county’s clerk, treasurer, prosecuting attorney, and the chairs of the local Republican and Democratic parties.
The drawing of the maps is an important exercise. Which voting precincts end up in which commission districts makes a difference in who can run and who can vote. State law mandates the commission districts share a common border, be as compact and as nearly a square shape as is practicable, and not be drawn to result in a partisan political advantage.
I live in the City of Howell, and I am sensitive to the role cities play as economic, entertainment, social, and cultural hubs, with all that confined into relatively small borders. It’s always felt to me that here in Livingston County, townships play an outsized role in the politics of the community, and diluting the importance of the county’s two cities by splitting them into different commission districts seems wrong to me.
That’s my way of explaining why I looked askance at maps that divvied Howell or Brighton into more than one county commission district. One map in particular — the one drawn by Meghan Reckling, chair of the Livingston County Republican Party — carved the City of Brighton into not one, not two, but THREE county commission districts.
I tried my hand at drawing a map using the online software recommended, and I am here to tell you that it was not an easy task; all the maps submitted to the county beat mine in a landslide.
The maps I liked best were drawn by Dominic Restuccia, who lives in the City of Howell; and Paula Seiter, who lives in Hamburg Township.
I’ve included a thumbnail of each map in my grading below. You can take a look at the detailed maps yourself — they’re located at the end of this post, as is the current district map for comparison. Each of the detailed maps includes supporting information, and makes for interesting reading for political geeks.
And if you have any thoughts, I encourage you to join in the discussion and grade the maps yourself by leaving a comment.
Here’s how I graded the maps submitted.
No. 1: Drawn by Dan Wholihan, a past chairperson of the Livingston County Republican Party, this map features some oddly shaped districts, and the City of Brighton is split into two different districts.
No. 2: Drawn by Dan Luria, who ran unsuccessfully for Livingston County Treasurer as a Democrat in 2018, drew a map that features some oddly shaped districts, but keeps the county’s two cities whole.
No. 3: Drawn by Livingston County Prosecutor David Reader, this map keeps the county’s two cities whole, but features a couple oddly shaped districts.
No. 4: Drawn by Anne Santa Maria, who lives in the City of Brighton, this map keeps the county’s two cities whole and features a bit of oddity in district shapes, but feels balanced and logical.
No. 5: Drawn by Judy Daubenmier, chair of the Livingston County Democrats, keeps the county’s two cities intact, but features some odd shapes, including District 2, which surrounds District 5 on three sides.
No. 6: Drawn by Mark Fosdick, this map features the single oddest district seen in any of the maps submitted for consideration; check out District 7. On the plus side, it keeps the county’s two cities intact.
No. 7: Drawn by Livingston County Treasurer Jennifer Nash, Livingston County, this map splits the City of Brighton between two districts, and features a couple other oddly shaped districts.
No. 8: The second map drawn by Judy Daubenmier keeps the county’s two cities together, but features an oddly shaped District 9.
No. 9: Drawn by Livingston County Clerk Elizabeth Hundley, this map keeps the county’s two cities intact, and while feeling balanced overall, has one oddly placed strip of District 2.
No. 10: Drawn by Jordan Genso, a candidate for the Brighton City Council, this map keeps the county’s two cities intact, but includes several oddly shaped districts.
No. 11: Drawn by Meghan Reckling, chair of the Livingston County Republican Party, this map gets immediate points deducted by splitting the City of Brighton into THREE commission districts, making one of the city’s precincts into a virtual island.
No. 12: Drawn by Michael Dolan, this map features several oddly shaped districts that feel somehow harmonious. It also keeps the county’s two cities intact.
No. 13: Drawn by Dominic Restuccia, this map keeps the county’s two cities intact, and creates what appear to be nicely shaped districts.
No. 14: Drawn by Paula Seiter, this map keeps the county’s two cities intact, and in taking a more vertical approach to drawing districts, she creates what feels like a well-balanced map.