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U.P. citizens need-not-apply for Michigan’s new redistricting commission
RELEASE|August 18, 2020

State Reps. Beau LaFave (Iron Mountain) and Greg Markkanen (Hancock) and Sen. Ed McBroom (Waucadeh Township) today expressed deep disappointment and frustration that not a single Upper Peninsula resident was selected to serve on the state’s first Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, which will redraw the boundaries of Michigan’s state and Congressional election districts.

The Upper Peninsula legislators said in the past the Michigan Legislature has overseen the redistricting process, ensuring at least four U.P. residents – and up to six – were involved in the process.

“This new process is supposed to be fair and independent, supposedly improving on the past – but we fail to see how taking away representation and accountability from residents in the Upper Peninsula is fair,” LaFave, Markkanen and McBroom said in a joint statement. “The closest representative we have is in Interlochen – more than 100 miles south of the Mackinac Bridge, and 6 hours from Ironwood.”

The trio also expressed frustration that Democrats in the Michigan Legislature used two of their 10 allotted strikes to remove Upper Peninsula residents from the pool of semifinalists for the commission, reducing the odds that a U.P. resident would be selected to serve. Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, struck both John Gudwer of Rapid River and Karen Gullan of Ironwood from the pool.

“This is just the latest example of the Upper Peninsula getting the short end of the stick at the hands of downstate Democrats,” they said. “The U.P. may only have a small portion of the state’s population, but it makes up about 30 percent of the state’s land – and no one is going to know this land better than a citizen of these communities. We deserve to have a voice in the drawing of our election districts. It’s quite demeaning that the rest of the state seems to think we’re good enough to serve as a tourist destination, but not to have representation on the redistricting commission.”

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