Letter to the editor

For the goal of re-drawing the county commissioner maps — at the finish, we never moved from the 50-yard line.

I am honored to have been a member of the five-person redistricting committee in Shiawassee County. I am dismayed at the final map that was approved.

I was the only dissenting vote. Following is my statement (slightly altered for clarification) to the committee:

This committee was charged with redrawing county commission district lines to reflect population changes/shifts following the 2020 Census. For the last several years, this county has been underserved and frankly embarrassed by closed meetings, back-room deals, a good ol’ boys climate and (potentially) multiple crimes committed by the leadership at the county commission.

We have witnessed scandal after scandal from a handful of corrupt commissioners and their enablers. This lack of integrity culminated in the COVID-19 hazard pay scandal that broke in July of this year.

District lines can make a difference in the quality of representation for the people. With a better map and/or by adding more commissioners, voices could have been added to the county commission that would have enhanced the diversity of viewpoints and increased accountability to foster healing and bolster voter confidence.

I have enjoyed and appreciated the congeniality of this committee. All members were always professional and courteous. I fear, however, that we sacrificed our opportunity to create a much fairer district map for the next 10 years by politely avoiding the temporary discomfort of substantial change to our map.

Our committee had a chance to redraw a county commission district map that more closely followed the guidelines laid out by the state constitution (specifically, Act 261 of 1966). That is, one that has fewer breaks in our cities, towns, townships and precincts, as well as one that does not favor one political party over the other. Instead, it has chosen a map with the absolute minimum in differences from the old map and therefore one that will not help to address the problems we have seen at the county commission.

It’s been said that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The absolute power of the Republican party in this county has led to corruption. In voting for the new map, the committee has chosen the status quo instead of looking to enhance the representation that the citizens of Shiawassee County deserve from their county commission.

I hope the representation at the county commission improves, but I’m disappointed that this committee had the opportunity to take an action that would help, and it chose not to.

Mark D. Zacharda

Democratic Party chairman,

Shiawassee County

(1) comment

Janet Kiley

I couldn't agree more...consensus is a difficult but often VERY fruitful process; however, "going along to get along" does not produce meaningful change. The County redistricting map was one of those crucial pivot points in our local governing process that could have been a game-changer - one that could bring a better political balance to local government. The ballot box is still - and maybe even more, critically important in choosing good representatives for local governance. Those who care must make an effort to cast a vote.

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