Census changes Charlevoix County Commission Districts

Drastic changes in some county commission districts

Every 10 years the physical area each Charlevoix County Commissioner serves is surveyed for population change.

Completed in tandem with the release of the U.S. Census figures, this survey – referred to as redistricting or apportionment – is directed by the federal government.

“I lost 37 voters,” said Charlevoix County Commissioner Chris Christensen.” So, I’m not nearly as affected as some other commissioners.”

The Charlevoix County Apportionment Commission, consisting of county Republican Party Chairman Tim Boyko, county Democratic Party Chairman Ken Allen, Charlevoix County Clerk Cherie Browe, county treasurer Marilyn Cousineau and Charlevoix County Prosecutor John Jarema, met to finalize its proposal on April 28.

True, Boyne City voters and those people living in Evangeline Township south of Shadow Trails will continue to have Christensen as their representative.

District 1 Charlevoix County Commissioner Shirlene Tripp’s seat will absorb the 37 voters in Evangeline Township who reside north of Shadow Trails.

According to Michigan law section 46.401, all of the state’s 83 counties must, within 30 days – 60 days for counties with population of 75,000 or more – of publication of the latest U.S. Census figures, apportion the county with between five and 35 county commissioner districts.

The challenges in this process, said Jarema, were several.

“Because the city of Charlevoix right now is split at the water, the people north of the bridge vote for one district and the people south of the bridge vote for another commissioner,” he said. “As a commission we tried to reduce the amount of local government splits.”

The apportionment committee had to maintain population from district to district that was within 11.9 percent of one another.

“Our numbers had to fall within the range of 4,087 and 4,580,” Jarema said.

The law also calls for the division to be in sections as square as is practicable and as even of population as can be realized.

If approved by the federal government, the largest changes in the redistricting process will be realized by Charlevoix County Commission Districts 1, 5 and 6, currently held by Tripp, Bob Drebenstedt and Richard Gillespie respectively.

Prior to redistricting, Gillespie’s sixth district seat served the City of Charlevoix south of the bridge over Pine River Channel. Tripp’s first district seat served City of Charlevoix voters north of the channel.

The proposed redistricting map now shows all Charlevoix voters would be served by the new District 6 – the new candidate(s) will have to come from within the City of Charlevoix.

“This won’t take effect until after the next election,” Gillespie said. “Unfortunately, that would put Bob (Drebenstedt) and I in the same district race (for the District 5 seat).”

He added, “But, I strongly feel I can represent the new district as well as anyone.”

Tripp’s District 1 will gain the 1,403 voters of Melrose Township which was previously served by Ron Reinhardt’s District 3.

Reinhardt gains all of Wilson Township in addition to his current areas of Chandler, Boyne Valley and Hudson townships and the Village of Boyne Falls.

Half of Wilson Township was formerly overseen by Drebenstedt’s fifth district commission seat.

The new District 5 will pick up all of Beaver Island with St. James and Peaine townships in addition to the existing areas of Eveline and Marion Townships.

“If it means a better representation and balance for the cities and townships of the county, I’m willing to adhere to what the redistricting board puts forth,” Christensen said. “I wasn’t subject to a split township in the past, although it is a minimal split.”

He added, “I’m sure whoever represents those people will do so to the best of their ability.”

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