Potts Vows Fight Over County Redistricting Not Over
The county commissioner from Birmingham said he will pursue an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.
For County Commissioner David Potts (R-Birmingham), the fight over redistricting in Oakland County isn't over.
At a recent meeting of the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees, Potts said he intends to appeal a recent ruling by an appellate court that dismissed claims of gerrymandering on the part of the Oakland County Apportionment Commission in July.
"The case will be appealed to the state Supreme Court, and there are some interesting things coming," Potts told the board at its meeting last week.
Potts may have been referring to another redistricting plan for Oakland County that would reduce the number of county commissioners by four, a plan which won approval in the state legislature last week as well as the endorsement of county exeuctive L. Brooks Patterson.
A package of bills introduced Nov. 29 by state Rep. Brad Jacobsen (R-46th District), a former Oakland County commissioner, moved out of the House Government Operations Committee on Dec. 7. It passed through the state House 58-50 the next day and was approved 20-17 Wednesday in the state Senate.
The changes include cutting the number of county commissioners from 25 to 21 and nullifying the redistricting map drawn up by the bi-partisan Apportionment Commission this past summer.
Only Oakland County would be impacted by the legislation since the bill targets counties with a population of more than 1 million and an optional unified form of government with an elected county executive. Wayne County meets the population threshold but has a charter form of government.
The move wuld save the county roughly $500,000 by 2013 and at least $2.5 million by the 2020 census, which drew support from Patterson.
"There is no need for Oakland or any other county to elect and pay for more than 21 elected commissioners," Patterson said in a written statement.
Patterson also said he supports the bill because it shifts authority of the redistricting process to local elected officials and away from unelected party representatives. Currently, the Apportionment Commission is made up of three Democrats — Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, county Democratic Party Chairman Frank Houston and county treasurer Andy Meisner — and two Republicans — country Republican Party Chairman Jim Thienel and county clerk Bill Bullard.
"Officials who perform redistricting should be accountable to voters," Patterson said. "Having the local elected commission stand accountable for the districts they create is a superior means to achieve this objective."
Last Thursday, however, seven of the county's 10 Democratic commissioners walked out their meeting. According to the Detroit News, the walkout came after a resolution that opposed the redistricting failed to gain any traction on the Republican-dominated board.
Potts filed suit in July challenging the Apportionment Commission's proposed redistricting plan. The proposal would pit him against fellow Republican incumbent Shelley Goodman Taub (R-16th District) for re-election next year.
The Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the proposed boundaries in a ruling issued last month.
Potts didn't mince words when he presented an update to the Bloomfield Township officials last week.
"I read the decision and, frankly, a first-year law student could have written it," he said. "They could have read it and probably understood the issues more."