Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

February 21, 2013

Forum: Gerrymandering is problem

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.

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