Traverse City Record-Eagle

February 21, 2013

Forum: Gerrymandering is problem

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — By Diane Ketola

I have been an active Democrat in Michigan politics for 32 years. Throughout this time I have served in a number of positions within the party, the most recent being as Grand Traverse County Party Chair. As a county chair I have first-hand experience with the tremendous support given to small rural counties by Mark Brewer and the Michigan Democratic Party staff. I have also appreciated the constantly expanding and improving services provided to local and state level candidates by the the party.

On Feb. 7, I received an e-mail endorsing an unknown person, Lon Johnson, for State Party Chair just 2 1/2 weeks before our February 2013 convention. Actually, Mr. Johnson wasn’t a total unknown as he ran for the 103rd State House seat in neighboring Kalkaska County in 2012.

Even though we were neighboring counties I had never met or had a conversation with Mr. Johnson until I was invited to participate in a conference call last Friday. During the course of the conference call Mr. Johnson talked about using social media (Brewer already provides access to twitter, Facebook and web sites); raising money which Mark Brewer does quite effectively; and recruiting candidates to run in every seat in Michigan (Brewer already does that).

Mr. Johnson reiterated numerous times that we need to recruit more candidates and raise more money to win on the state level.

The problem with state politics is not a lack of viable candidates or money; the problem is “gerrymandering” district lines by whichever party is in power at the time of the census.

As a matter of fact, Lon Johnson’s own state House campaign is a prime example of the gerrymandering effect. Johnson is a young man, with access to the best campaign tools and strategies available (via his wife’s role with the Obama campaign). He raised $350,000 (an eye-popping amount of money for a state house race) and he still lost.

His platform for running for the position of Michigan Democratic Party Chair is based on utilizing social media, raising money, viable candidates in every house seat. If this is what it takes and he had all of these components in his own campaign why did he lose? Gerrymandering.

Unfortunately Mr. Johnsosn doesn’t seem to understand state level politics so I will continue to support Mark Brewer for Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party and I urge all delegates attending next week’s convention to do the same.

About the author: Diana Ketola is chair of the Grand Traverse Democratic Party

About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of interest or expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by emailing Please include biographical information and a photo.