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This draft map shows the proposed new state House district lines for northern Michigan, as drawn by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. Citizens have several opportunities to give input on the map in person and online before it is given final approval.

TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Traverse County may be split in two if a new district map for northern Michigan is given the OK by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.

A proposed draft map drawn last week by the 13-member commission shows that Grand Traverse County will be separated along an east/west boundary that will have the upper half of the county joining with Leelanau County, and the bottom half joining a district that will include Benzie and Manistee counties and part of Mason County.

Grand Traverse now comprises the 104th district, with district boundaries for the most part following county lines.

The draft map also has Antrim and Kalkaska counties in the same district, along with Missaukee and Wexford counties. Antrim is currently in the 105th district with Otsego, Montmorency and Oscoda counties. Kalkaska is in the 103rd with Crawford, Missaukee, Roscommon and Ogemaw counties.

Numbers have not yet been assigned for the redrawn districts.

Commissioner Penny Morris added the map to the agenda packet for Wednesday’s commission meeting, saying she was concerned about the county being cut up.

“I’m puzzled as to why they would break us up,” Morris said. “It doesn’t feel cohesive. It doesn’t feel like everyone would have fair representation.”

The district covers a large area but residents are very communal-minded, she said, and the district needs to reflect that.

The 2020 U.S. Census numbers, released Aug. 12, show the county’s population grew 9.5 percent to 95,238 residents. The MICRC is traveling around the state holding public sessions to reset boundaries for three Senate and nine House districts based on population shifts within the state, with one upcoming in Acme on Aug. 26.

Population growth in the county also prompted the five-member Grand Traverse County Apportionment Commission to redraw local commission boundaries and add two districts. Counties can have from five to 21 commissioners based on population.

Congressional districts are also being redrawn after Michigan lost a seat, going from 14 to 13.

The state’s 38 Senate districts will ideally have 265,193 people; its 110 house seats will have 91,612; and the 13 Congressional districts 771,3030 people each.

Commissioner Daryl Nelson noted that under the proposed map Fife Lake and Kingsley will be more associated with Ludington in Mason County as its economic center, rather than Traverse City.

“I think it would be unfortunate if I lived in Kingsley or Fife Lake if I was now more associated with an area to the south,” Nelson said.

Several mapping sessions are planned around the state through September, with a vote taken on the final proposed drafts Sept. 30. More public hearings will then be held starting Oct. 11 with possible changes being made reflecting public input. Another vote is taken on the final draft, after which members of the public have 45 days in which to comment and possibly more changes are made before the maps become final.

Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers said dividing the county up seems unnecessarily complicated, but combining the city with Leelanau County may create a district that would be more representative of those who live there.

The partisanship that has grown over the last several years is frustrating, he said.

“Liberals and progressives tend to be more about what’s important for people,” Carruthers said. “They strive to help everybody, not just a certain political party or demographic.”

Morris said she thought the board should weigh in on the map, which can be done at

Commissioner Betsy Coffia said the county has been fortunate to be a county that is a single district. She is in favor of providing input on the map but said it should also include input on the MICRC’s hiring of attorney E. Mark Braden and the Washington-based law firm BakerHostetler as its counsel in spite of objections by Voters Not Politicians, the group that was behind the 2018 ballot initiative to create the non-partisan commission.

“This law firm is famous for skewing districts in favor of, in this case, Republicans,” Coffia said.

Grand Traverse County’s district maps have to be complete within 60 days of the date census numbers were released, giving the Apportionment Commission an Oct. 11 deadline, which was approved by members on Thursday at a livestreamed meeting.

Members also talked about Garfield Township, which is adding a precinct to the six it now has. A precinct cannot have more than 2,999 active registered voters and Garfield has a few precincts that are getting close to that mark, especially with the construction going on in the township, said Bonnie Scheele, Grand Traverse clerk.

Green Lake Township is also considering adding a precinct, she said.

Any precinct changes need to be in place by Thursday, Sept. 9, when the commission will begin drawing its district maps. A precinct can be split up into more than one district, but Scheele said it’s not ideal.

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