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Ingham County's Board of Commissioners is growing after board approves new maps

Officials approved maps on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 setting new boundaries for electing Ingham County commissioners starting in 2022.
Ingham County Apportionment Commission
Officials approved maps on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 setting new boundaries for electing Ingham County commissioners starting in 2022.

Ingham County will increase its number of elected commissioners from 14 to 15 after officials approved new district boundaries Thursday.

The new maps will take effect for the 2022 elections.

Commissioner Mark Grebner, a member of the commission's Democratic caucus, says having an odd number of representatives will help prevent tie votes.

And he prefers the plan to an earlier draft that would have reduced the number of seats to 11, causing incumbent commissioners to compete against each other in primaries.

“Let's not spend the next year with internal fights within the majority caucus of the Board of Commissioners," said Grebner, who represents part of East Lansing.

"We've got a lot of work to do, and we do not need to spend it with Person A proposing something and Person B opposing it because he wants to block Person A from winning a primary against him or against some ally."

Anapportionment commission redraws Ingham County's districts once every decade using U.S. Census data. Three officials who are elected countywide — the clerk, treasurer and prosecutor — sit on the apportionment commission along with chairs of Ingham County's Democratic and Republican parties.

Ingham County's Board of Commissioners leans Democratic with only three Republicans currently on the board. Given the county's demographics, with most of the population clustered around Lansing and East Lansing, the new districts should preserve that Democratic majority.

Yavonne Whitbeck, Ingham County's GOP chair, was the sole vote against adopting the new plan.

"This process in Ingham County is obviously dominated by the Democrats," said Commissioner Randy Maiville, an Onondaga Republican. "When you're in that minority party, you're sort of at the whims of that group."

County Clerk Barb Byrum, a Democrat, says she initially proposed an 11-district map because she believes it would have done a better job representing out-county areas.

Still, she says the adopted maps are a good solution.

"In commissions and in governments, there is compromise," she said. "I think it's important to note that there are rural districts as well as populated districts, and I think that's important for representation in the county."

Sarah Lehr is a politics and civics reporter for WKAR News.
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