County board approves Woodward's new map
By Lisa Brody
The Oakland County Board of Commissioners, by a vote of 14-7, approved Woodward's Reapportionment Map Plan A 3 as the reapportionment, or redistricting plan, for the county commission districts beginning in 2022, at their board meeting on Tuesday, November 9.
Unlike for districts for Congress, state Senate and state House, where redistricting is being done by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, reapportionment maps for the Oakland County Board of Commission is done by a five-member ad hoc reapportionment committee, three of whose members are Democrats.
The county board has a one-vote majority of Democrats, 11-10, and is led by board chair Dave Woodward (D-Royal Oak). Members on the ad hoc reapportionment committee were committee chair Angela Powell (D-Pontiac), Woodward, vice chair, Marcia Gershenson (D-Bloomfield Township), Michael Spisz (R-Oxford) and Eileen Kowall (R-White Lake).
The committee voted 4-1, with Kowall dissenting, to approve Woodward's map, which reduced the board to 19 commission districts from the current 21, on Friday, November 5, and to move it forward to the full board for approval.
However, Woodward's map was not the only map drawn and presented. Both Kowall and Spisz presented new maps. Spisz' retained the 21 districts, although with many new district boundaries. His map split many of the communities of interest, such as Bloomfield Township, which would have been in three different districts, as would have Troy and Farmington Hills. Tiny Walled Lake and Hazel Park would have been in two.
Kowall reduced the number of commission districts to 19 while maintaining many contiguous communities of interest in drawing its boundaries, such as keeping almost all of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham together in one district, District 15.
Woodward's amended map, which was approved, splits Birmingham from Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Hills, and places it with part of Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods and Ferndale, traditional Democrat majority districts. The majority of Bloomfield Township and all of Bloomfield Hills is in District 11, along with the eastern half of West Bloomfield and Orchard Lake Village. A portion of the southern part of the township is in District 18, with Southfield, Franklin, Bingham Farms and Beverly Hills. The northwestern and northeastern portions of Bloomfield Township are in District 9, with Pontiac. A third of it is carved out to put it with West Bloomfield, Waterford, Keego Harbor and Sylvan Lake.
Woodward said the motivation to reduce the number of commissioners from 21 to 19 was to save money, have more efficient government, and “still leaves Oakland County with the largest public body outside the state legislature.
Commissioner Chuck Moss (R-Birmingham, Bloomfield Township, Bloomfield Hills) does not support the new map.
“The map speaks for itself. In no way does it keep communities of interest together. Pontiac is cut in half. Bloomfield Township is cut in half. Birmingham is in a small sliver and goes all the way down to Huntington Woods and Ferndale. I love Ferndale, but Birmingham has nothing in common with Ferndale,” Moss said. “It's an obvious gerrymander. It ignores communities of interest.”
Following approval by the board of commissioners, the new map was sent to the county clerk's office, who was to send it to the secretary of state's office. There is A 30-day period for the map to be challenged before it becomes official.