Proposed State Senate Map Would Divide Berrien County | Elections

Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission delivered the card on Monday for a 45-day public comment period.

The area north of Linco Road would belong to the 20th District, which includes parts of Van Buren, Allegan and Kent counties. The area south of Linco Road would be part of the 17th District, which encompasses border counties like Cass, St. Joseph and Branch, as well as parts of Hillsdale County.

Michigan voted for the commission to redistrict in 2018, rather than the Legislature.

Currently, Berrien — along with Cass and St. Joseph counties — resides in the 21st District, which is represented by State Senator Kim LaSata.

According to the proposed map, Berrien County could have two state senate representatives or potentially none.


LaSata, Township R-Bainbridge, reportedly lives in the 20th District with fellow Republican Senator Aric Nesbitt. Neither senator faces the end of term limits imposed in 2022.

LaSata did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.



A Nesbitt spokesperson said in an email: “We’ll see what the card looks like once the process is complete.”

State Sen. Mike Shirkey, also a Republican, would be located in the proposed 17th District. However, the Senate Majority Leader will not be able to run for re-election in 2022 due to term limits.

The distance — the 17th District would be nearly 130 miles wide if approved — means an incumbent senator can be alien to a good chunk of his or her constituents, according to John Clark, a professor of political science at Western Michigan University. .

“That person won’t be very well known outside of their current district,” Clark said.

The map identifies two communities of interest that Berrien County belongs to: Indiana’s border counties and lakeside counties, the professor said.

“If Berrien is not divided in this way, the question becomes, what area does it go with?” said Clark.

Communities of interest is a broad term the commission uses to identify communities with similar needs, Clark said. Because of their similar interests, the communities could share a representative who could advocate on their behalf.

“As we draw district lines — we want to — we don’t divide people who should be together in the same district,” Clark said.

This job is easier said than done. Considerations for communities of interest could include county boundaries, municipal governments, economic interests, and demographics.

Clark said ranking those considerations is another challenge.

“If one of your main considerations was to maintain the integrity of the boundaries of these counties, then you probably wouldn’t end up with Berrien divided like it is,” Clark said.

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