– Dr. Hayg Oshagan is a professor at Wayne State University, co-chair of the Detroit City Council Immigration Task Force and the director of New Michigan Media
We are entering the final phase of the redistricting process in Michigan. As you know, Michigan voters passed a law in 2018 that redistricting in our state would be done by an independent commission and not by politicians in Lansing. For over a year, the new Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) has been the independent body that has been meeting to hear community concerns, analyze Census data and draw fair maps for Michigan elections.
After many months of public comments, as well as hundreds of emails and maps submitted, the MICRC released its sets of proposed maps on October 12. These are maps for the 110 Michigan State House districts, the 38 Michigan State Senate districts and the 13 Michigan U.S. Congressional districts. But these are still proposed maps and not the final ones. The MICRC has proposed three different versions of the MI State House maps, three different versions of the MI State Senate maps and five different versions of the MI U.S. Congressional maps.
They now want to hear from Michigan residents which one map from each category we want them to keep. For that, a new series of public hearings has been scheduled that will allow people to come in-person and tell the Commissioners which maps they like and which ones they don’t like. Comments can also be emailed through the MRCRC online portal. After listening to all of us, on November 4, the MICRC will meet to decide which one final proposed map they will keep for the MI House, the MI Senate and the MI U.S. Congress. They will publish those choices on November 14.
This is our chance to make sure that the maps they choose fairly represent our minority communities. The issue at stake for our communities is our voice in Michigan and in federal politics. Can we elect someone who will represent us well? Do we have enough of us in a district to make sure our concerns are listened to? Will our elected officials fight for us in Lansing or Washington DC? Do you need funding for schools, for parks, for pollution control, for mental health, for elder care? The best way to make sure we are heard and get the resources we need is to have districts that keep our communities together so that we can vote together. This is why these maps matter.
If our communities are split across multiple districts, then our voting power, our voice will be split and made much weaker. So look at the maps on the MICRC website (search MICRC on the web) and see what the Commission has done to our communities for the House, Senate and Congressional districts in your area. Pick the one in each that is the best and let them know about it, either in-person when they meet near your area or by email through their online portal.
This is about our voice in politics; this about getting the resources we need for our communities. These maps will stay for the next 10 years and determine how strong we are in electing people who listen to us and represent our issues. So make your voice heard, go to public comment and tell the Commission which maps are fair.