Appeals Court Sides with Democrats in Redistricting Case

Appeals Court Sides with Democrats in Redistricting Case

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Ferndale 115 News, March 15, 2012 ed)

On Wednesday, March 7, 2012 The State Court of Appeals has upheld a prior court ruling that Public Act 280 of 2011, which reduces the number of Oakland County commissioners to 21 from 25 and allows the elected commissioners to draw the new county commission districts, should not have been passed without a ¾ vote by the state legislature.

PA 280 was pushed through the state legislature after Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and County Republicans were unhappy with the court-approved redistricting maps that were proposed by the apportionment committee after the 2010 census.  The committee was made up of five members, three of whom were Democrats.

The bill included language to speed up the process to require new districts be drawn this election year, and leaving potential candidates in the dark since no new map has yet been approved and the appeal process carries on.  County Clerk Bill Bullard said his office is taking applications for all 25 districts as they currently stand.  “If there is a new law in effect, we’ll deal with it later.  We’ll personally notify everyone.  We let them know there are 25 districts now, which may be subject to change.”  He also indicated that if a district is eliminated or the number changes, the candidates will have to start over with their petitioning process.

County Commissioner Craig Covey (D-25), who represents Ferndale, Hazel Park and the southern tip of Royal Oak, said he is pleased with the court’s ruling.  “We expect there to be an appeal, but we trust the Supreme Court to do the right thing.  They rarely like to go over the heads of the other courts, and this is an election year so we hope they will avoid the controversy.”

Bill Mullins, press liaison for County Executive Patterson, said “We completely expected it to go 2-1. Two of the judges were [former Governor Jennifer] Granholm’s appointees and we fully expected them to sway that way.  We have already filed in the Michigan Supreme Court and we hope to have a ruling in the next 2-3 weeks.”

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