WCDP News: Two Americas, Redistricting, and more!

18 mins read

22 September 2021

The Black Lives Matter mural in Ypsilanti’s Riverside Park., created on June 8th, defaced on September 19th.

Photo Attributions: (left) Jacob Hamilton / MLive, (right) Trische’ Duckworth

Two Americas

We live in a long-divided country. Yes, the indigenous peoples of this continent fought among themselves, even made the captured into slaves. However, slavery based on the color of one’s skin was a part of the Great American Experiment. It started in 1619 with the arrival of the first African slaves in the Virginia Colony, was codified into Virginia Law starting in the 1660s, and then folded into the Constitution in 1787.

The stolen labor of Black slaves built this country into an economic power, North and South, with the cotton trade. It built the White House in Washington. The sale of Black slaves provided seed capital for many now-prominent universities in the fledgling country. 

The (Un)Civil War freed the Black slaves, but our country put most of them back in shackles, less visible but more insidious. The failure of Reconstruction, the rise of Jim Crow laws, and all the other layers of social, economic, and electoral disenfranchisement had their source in the mistaken belief that Black people were inferior to Whites. In the eyes of White Supremacists, Black people were to be rightfully placed into a lower position in the American Caste System, and rightfully punished for trying to step outside it.

Despite the Civil Rights Era reforms, the legacy of our divided America persists. There are those who cling to the belief in the superiority of white skin, and fight for the privileges that belief would grant them still. They were the ones with the white paint in the morning of September 19th who defaced the Black Lives Matter mural in Riverside Park in Ypsilanti. But as long as America remains divided, we ALL are responsible.

The Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities have been fighting this for centuries, but in the end, it’s not their war to win. It’s time for those of us that are White to recognize that this country has a White problem, one that’s ours to fix. It’s a problem that has three battle fronts:

  • In Our Culture, where groups like the Patriot Front, Vanguard, Proud Boys, Atomwaffen Division, and their ilk propagate their mistaken beliefs and embolden violent actions against BIPOC communities across America.
  • In Our Institutions, where the accumulated momentum of past discrimination, in our history, our laws, our media, our education, and our economics continue to harm and destroy lives to this day.
  • In Our Heads, where that same momentum has shaped the very templates of our decisions and actions. Where what we do and how we try to do it carries with it assumptions based in that discriminatory culture. Unconsciously, for most people reading this, but we can no longer afford the luxury of being comfortable in our heads. We must be willing to examine our beliefs and actions from a BIPOC perspective.

We need to listen to the BIPOC communities, take in the pain they are experiencing, and act on how they define their needs. White people can never fully understand what it means to be BIPOC, but we MUST try. We WILL make mistakes, but we only FAIL if we don’t learn from our mistakes, or we stop trying.

We CAN work together to close the divide. It’s what this moment calls for and what “towards a more perfect union” really means.


Get Informed!

Did you get your application for the November ballot in the mail? There are Mayoral and City Council races in Chelsea and Milan, City Council in Saline, and Library Board positions in Milan too. A full list is here.

  • In Chelsea, Jane Pacheco is running for Mayor. She’s served on the Chelsea City Council for almost eight years, and has deep roots in both Chelsea and social justice in Washtenaw County.  Check out her Facebook page for more info.
     
  • Tony Iannelli is also running for re-election to the Chelsea City Council. Check out his Facebook page.
     
  • Christine “Kate” Mehuron is also running for the Chelsea City Council. Here’s her web site.

The Western Washtenaw Democrats are hosting a Chelsea Candidate Meet and Greet on Tuesday, October 5th at the Chelsea Depot. More details in the Events section below.


There are ballot proposals this fall, too!

Four in Ann Arbor, one in Pittsfield Township and one for the Columbia School District, which includes some Washtenaw areas.

Pittsfield Township is again seeking a millage increase for Public Safety proposals, and Columbia Schools is for a sinking fund millage.

For Ann Arbor voters, a big question to be decided is whether the city should use a system of Ranked Choice Voting for its elections. Ranked Choice means that rather than having to make a single choice among candidates, one can indicate a first, second or third choice. If a voter’s first choice does not receive enough votes, that vote will then be allocated to the second choice. For an excellent discussion of this system, see the recording of last Saturday’s monthly WCDP meeting.

Another proposal would allow the city to choose a vendor or supplier using more criteria than just the lowest responsible bid. A contract could be awarded to “the bidder that is deemed the best value to the City rather than the lowest responsible bidder.” Two more proposals aim to streamline some purchases, giving the City Administrator more leeway to make lower-dollar value or emergency decisions.

These elections typically see lower participation; this year’s decision on the way we will vote in the future deserves our attention! 
Read about the ballot proposals here.


Dem Candidates!

Your information can get posted here, too! Contact us at comms@infowashtenawdems.org

We must vote, and must protect the vote.

  • The right to vote is the foundation of democracy. Free and fair elections that reflect the will of the American people must be protected and defended.
  • But as many Americans, especially people of color, face significant obstacles to the right to vote, we must meet the greatest threat to our democracy since the Civil War. Denying the right to vote is grounded in autocracy, and it is undemocratic, un-American, and unpatriotic
  • Two weeks ago, the House approved the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — no thanks to a single Republican vote.
  • While Republicans are working hard to enact anti-voter laws across the country, House Democrats voted to pass one of the most comprehensive expansions of voting rights since the Voting Rights Act was first codified in 1965. This bill honors the life and legacy of John Lewis by preventing discriminatory voting laws, and protecting groups affected by unfair redistricting nationwide.
  • Now, President Biden has called on the Senate to act and send this bill and the For the People Act to his desk.

Let Our U.S. Senators know we have their backs!
   Sen. Debbie Stabenow (202) 224-4822
   Sen. Gary Peters (202) 224-6221


Take Action! Redistricting

At the County Level
The census data is in, and it’s time to determine County Commission district lines. This is decided by a commission including the County Clerk, Treasurer, and Prosecutor, along with the heads of the County Democratic and Republican Parties.

Our Data Officer, Dirk Mayhew, has put together this info page and a tool for drawing your own map as well! If you do, please take a screenshot to submit it to the Apportionment Commission.
http://www.washtenawdempds.org/index.html

Written comments can be provided to the Apportionment Commission using this online form,

Written comments can also be sent by mail to / dropped off in-person at this address.

Washtenaw County Apportionment Commission,
c/o Washtenaw County Clerk – Elections Division
200 N. Main Street, Suite 120
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Or you can fax them to (734) 222-6528.

The next County Apportionment meeting where public comments and proposed maps can be submitted is Monday Sept. 27 at 6:30pm, at this Zoom link.

https://us06web.zoom.us/s/81903976883?pwd=WmxxMHZ2R3MyOUROYlNpY1YrajFjZz09
Passcode: 091121


At the State Level

Via the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) the various maps for U.S Congressional, State Senate, and State Legislative districts are being drawn, and now’s the time to give your comments and feedback on the proposed maps.

After rewriting their schedule last week, the MICRC spent three days mapping the state Senate. They have not yet finished. Their work on the Senate map largely focused on meeting target population requirements. Commissioners do not have partisan fairness data in front of them as they are mapping. 

See the latest state Senate draft map.
Senate Districts drawn: 23 out of 38.
Likely Democratic districts: 6
Likely Republican districts: 14
Districts with neither party having more than 50%: 3

Immediate Public Comment Needed
    •    Splitting cities is necessary to create fair districts.
    •    Thanking the MICRC for splitting Lansing and Grand Rapids into two Senate districts.
    •    Notes on how the Grand Rapids split could be better.
    •    Ask the MICRC to also split Ann Arbor from Ypsilanti, to give Ypsilanti its own Senate district. Ann Arbor needs to be split into multiple Senate districts to create fair districts in Washtenaw.
    •    Ask the MICRC to map with partisan fairness data and past election results. The MICRC is creating more right-leaning districts than we had in the previous gerrymandered maps that voters chose to get rid of in 2018.

Looking Ahead
The MICRC is continuing to work on the Senate map and then will move ahead to mapping Congressional districts as indicated by their most recent schedule.

Three Ways to Submit Public Comments

  • Through the MICRC public comment portal, where you can both submit maps / comments AND comment on other  submitted and proposed maps / comments.
  • By attending one of the MICRC public meetings, and speak in person or via Zoom. The schedule of meetings is at this link.
  • By emailing the MICRC at redistricting@michigan.gov.

Want some more resources on what to say and how to say it? Here they are.

MDP Redistricting Toolkit
League of Women Voters – Redistricting
Voters Not Politicians – Redistricting
Redistricting Actions YOU Can Take


Missed the WCDP Meeting?

We typically meet on the first Saturday morning of each month, unless holidays shift the schedule. Since the start of the pandemic, we’re been meeting via Zoom.

If you didn’t make September’s meeting, we’ve got you covered. Here are the online video links.

WCDP Chair’s Report (5 min)
Legislative Update with Rep. Debbie Dingell (12 min)
Lansing Update with Rep. Yousef Rabhi (10 min)
County Update with Commission Chair Sue Shink (14 min)

Ranked Choice Voting (35 min)
Medicare for All (25 Min)
Ypsi Can I Share? (42 min)

The WCDP also has its own YouTube channel, where you can see past meetings and presentations. It’s at:
https://www.youtube.com/user/washtenawdems


Events

Saturday, September 25th
11am-2pm, 1301 South Harris Rd, Ypsilanti

  • We the People Opportunity Farm, which helps break the cycle of incarceration in Washtenaw County and builds our community by employing and skill building with returning citizens, is holding their 4th Annual Harvest Festival of Thanks. It will have live entertainment, games for kids, and free food from local restaurants! More info at https://www.wtpof.org/

Sunday, September 26th
1-3pm, Bandemer Park, Ann Arbor

Saturday, October 2nd
12 noon
Ann Arbor – Federal Building, 200 E Liberty St
Lansing – State Capitol, 100 N Capital Ave

  • The Women’s March organization is coordinating marches on October 2nd all across the U.S. in support of women’s reproductive rights. You can RSVP online at https://womensmarch.com/

Save the Date!
Tuesday, October 5th
Time TBD, Chelsea Depot, Chelsea

  • Candidates for the Chelsea Mayoral and City Council elections will be available to speak with voters at this event. Check next week’s Newsletter for more details!

THE FINAL WORD


STAY IN TOUCH WITH YOUR MICHIGAN REPS

Find your county commissioner here.

State Senator Jeff Irwin has a regular Virtual Coffee Hour — To receive the Zoom access code and the next date, please fill out this form:https://senatedems.com/irwin/coffee-hour-sign-up/

State Rep. Yousef Rabhi, 53rd House district: yousefrabhi@house.mi.gov, Phone: (517) 373-2577. https://housedems.com/yousef-rabhi/.
Typically discussions are 10 am on the 4th Saturday of the month and 6 pm on the 2nd Monday of the month. Click to register:Monday coffee hoursSaturday coffee hours

State Rep. Ronnie Peterson, 54th House district: ronniepeterson@house.mi.gov Phone: (517) 373-1771 | Toll-Free: (855) 347-8054, https://housedems.com/ronnie-peterson/ 

State Rep. Donna Lasinski, 52nd House district: donnalasinski@house.mi.gov, Phone: (517) 373-0828 | Toll-Free: (855) 627-5052, https://housedems.com/donna-lasinski/ (sign up for emails here). 

State Rep. Felicia Brabec, 55th House district: FeliciaBrabec@house.mi.gov, Phone: (517) 373-1792, https://housedems.com/felicia-brabec/.

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