FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Elizabeth Battiste
Republicans for Redistricting Reform back Voters Not Politicians proposal
Voters Not Politicians announced a significant and growing group of former Republican officials, including lawmakers and department heads who have served under GOP governors, is supporting its ballot proposal to end partisan gerrymandering in Michigan.
Former Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz, who was also a longtime state Senator and mayor of Battle Creek, serves on the board of directors of the nonpartisan Voters Not Politicians ballot committee. He said he was pleased to see a number of his former colleagues agree that an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission would be an improvement over our current process, which allows lawmakers and lobbyists to draw maps behind closed doors.
“Good public policy has long been the goal of many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” said Schwarz. “I’m pleased to see many who have long records of distinguished public service step up on this vital issue, a critical reform needed to get Michigan back on track to being a great state again.”
Among those who have endorsed the proposal, in addition to Congressman Schwarz, are:
- Former state Sen. Patty Birkholz, R-Saugatuck (Also former head of the Office of Great Lakes under Gov. Rick Snyder)
- Former state Rep. Bill Bobier, R-Hesperia
- Former state Rep. Nancy Crandall, R-Norton Shores
- Former state Rep. Pan Godchaux, R-Birmingham.
- Former state Rep. Jon Jellema, R-Grand Haven
- Former state Rep. Mickey Knight, R-Muskegon
- Pat Babcock, Director of the Office of Services to the Aging, Department of Labor, and Department of Mental Health under Gov. William G. Milliken
- Former Director of Michigan Government International Programs under Gov. John Engler, GOP candidate for Congress and 9th U.S. District GOP Chair, Field Reichardt
Birkholz put it simply: “I’m happy to be part of a group standing up for transparent redistricting.”
Bobier said when he and others voted to put into state law the “Apol standards” encouraging district maps to cut fewer county, city and township lines, they thought it would reduce gerrymandering. “We never expected purity in the process, but we didn’t expect it to become so perverted,” he said. “It’s apparent we need an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw these lines.”
Knight said he believed our current partisan-driven redistricting system has led to politicians pushing extreme policies. “Today’s redistricting process creates gerrymandered districts where the primary is more important than the general election,” he said. “That leads to too many candidates from the far left or right. The Voters Not Politicians proposal will lead to members of Congress and state lawmakers who campaign on ideas that appeal to all voters, not just their primary supporters.”
Katie Fahey, executive director and founder of Voters Not Politicians, said the ongoing bipartisan support matches what the all-volunteer petition collectors saw as they collected more than 425,000 signatures around the state. “Members of all parties – and independents too – know our current political system is badly broken, and that our flawed redistricting process is one reason,” said Fahey. “If we want to get Michigan back to a state where the roads are fixed, our drinking water is safe and our schools work for everyone, we need to start with redistricting reform.”
The proposed Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission is similar to the one adopted by voters in California and endorsed by former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Elections became more competitive following the change, resulting in several career Democratic representatives losing their seats.
Ohio’s Republican Gov. John Kasich endorsed redistricting reform in his state saying, "Ideas and merit should be what wins elections, not gerrymandering. When pure politics is what drives these kinds of decisions, the result is polarization and division. Gerrymandering needs to be in the dustbin of history."
Voters Not Politicians has submitted the signatures of 425,000 Michigan voters to place their proposal on the ballot this November. The proposed amendment to the State Constitution would take the redistricting process out of the hands of politicians, lobbyists and other insiders and give that authority to an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission balanced among Republican, Democratic and unaffiliated voters.
Voters Not Politicians is a nonpartisan, volunteer-driven organization dedicated to passing a state constitutional amendment to end gerrymandering by taking politicians and lobbyists out of the redistricting process and putting Michigan citizens in charge. Learn more at www.votersnotpoliticians.com.