Thursday, June 10, 2021

Sumpter OKs tri-community redistricting resolution

Members of the Sumpter Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution to join with the City of Belleville and Van Buren Township in support of tri-community representation at the state level.

Township attorney Rob Young suggested the Sumpter Board of Trustees join the other two communities in approving a resolution to be forwarded to the state redistricting commission as state voting districts are re-evaluated. Young explained to the board that the new commission had been approved by voters and was now tasked with fairly and equitably establishing voting districts for both state senators and state representatives to eliminate gerrymandering that grants an advantage to whichever party may be in power when the districts are drawn.

Young said that the resolution explains to the commissioners that Sumpter, Van Buren and Belleville are “similar in nature and that the township officials would prefer to have one state representative and one state senator represent all three communities. 

“If we have the opportunity, we would like to stick together and have one common representative,” he said.

Young told the board trustees during the study session prior to the meeting that Sumpter is currently in the same district for state representation as Monroe.

Trustee Don LaPorte asked Young if the township would be at a disadvantage not being a charter township.

Young responded that he felt the current township structure was “the last bastion of democracy in the country” and that he felt there was no disadvantage in the resolution.

His sentiments were shared by Trustee Tim Rush who said that becoming a charter township had been previously discussed and the he was strongly against it

“I feel it is taking the power of the people to control their own destiny away,” he said. “In a charter township the board can levy a tax up to a certain mill without voter approval. To me, that is taxation without representation.”

His sentiments were echoed by Trustee Peggy Morgan who had some computer issues in joining the virtual meeting May 25. 

“I agree with Tim,” she said. “I disagreed with becoming a charter. I never want Sumpter to become a charter township.”

LaPorte said he felt the resolution would be a good thing for Sumpter and for all three communities to bond together. 

Rush said recent election results across the board were similar in all three communities.

“Standard state representation would be good for the tri-communities,” he said.

The board members approved the resolution unanimously in the absence of Township Clerk Esther Hurst and Treasurer James Clark.