Dems submit first redistricting plan

April 29, 2011
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Apportionment Commissioner Jim Rinck, also chairman of the Kent County Democratic Party, submitted the first redistricting plan for the county last week, following the U.S. Census Bureau count that showed the county’s population grew by 4.9 percent over the past decade.

The Kent County Apportionment Commission meets again Wednesday, May 4, at 1:30. All other plans for redistricting must be submitted to the commission at that meeting, which will be held in the Kent County Commission Chambers on the third floor of the Kent County Administration building at 300 Monroe Ave. NW.

The plan Rinck gave the commission keeps the number of county commissioners at its current level of 19. “What we have to do is follow the Voting Rights Act. If we can draw up districts with a majority of minorities, we have to do it,” said Rinck, a local attorney. 

The plan has two districts with minorities as the majority; the population count of the 19 districts ranges from 30,504 to 33,258. “This seems to be the plan that honors the Voting Rights Act and limits the number of splits. No precincts are broken in this (plan),” said Rinck.

Fellow Democrat Robert Dean, a former state representative and Grand Rapids city commissioner, attended last week’s meeting and took part in a press conference earlier that day. “We ask the redistricting committee to accept our plan. We cannot afford to wait another 10 years,” said Dean, an African-American.

Rinck said the redistricting plan he submitted doesn’t pit incumbent Democratic commissioners against each other in an election. But he added that he wasn’t certain if he could say the same for Republicans currently serving on the county commission.

Following Wednesday’s meeting, all submitted plans will be available for public review in the Kent County Clerk’s office on the first floor of the county building.

“I think we can assume that one or more will be submitted by May 4th,” said Apportionment Permanent Chairman Kenneth Parrish, also Kent County Treasurer.

The commission will hold a public hearing on all submitted plans in the commission chambers at 4 p.m. May 17; commissioners are scheduled to adopt a plan to send to the state at 1:30 p.m. May 19. Both the public hearing and the commission’s vote will take place in the third-floor chambers.

Apportionment Commission Secretary Mary Hollinrake, also Kent County Clerk and Register of Deeds, said the county’s redistricting plan has to be at the Michigan Bureau of Elections by June 6.

Rounding out the five-member Apportionment Commission are Kent County Republican Party Chairman Sam Moore and Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth, also the commission’s parliamentarian.

The population in Kent County rose from 574,335 in 2000 to 602,622 in 2010.

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