By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
The new Oakland County Board of Commissioners map has been reduced from 21 to 19 districts for the years 2022-2031. The map, drawn by Board Chair David Woodward (D-Royal Oak), was approved by a 14-7 vote Nov. 9.
The district containing Oxford and Addison townships has been renamed District 5 instead of District 3. The new district is slightly smaller, geographically. It no longer contains Brandon Township, but it includes most of Oakland Township, all of Rochester and part of Rochester Hills. It also includes the villages of Oxford and Leonard. With 2020 Census numbers, the district population is 66,450.
Prior to the vote, Commissioner Michael Spisz (R-Oxford) made a motion to swap Woodward’s map for his own, which would have retained all 21 districts. “I’m not exactly clear on what’s driving the 21 to 19 change,” Spisz said. “If we’re looking to save money, which I think everyone here knows I’m all for saving money in different ways, I think there are better ways for us to save some money as a county.” Commissioners are paid about $37,000 a year, plus health benefits.
“By reducing from 21 to 19,” Spisz continued, “as has been stated by a few in the public, it reduces the reach of the people. Now they only have 19 people to contact versus 21.”
Spisz’s amendment failed 10-11. Woodward’s map will pit Spisz against fellow incumbent Adam Kochenderfer (R-Rochester Hills) if they both decide to run in 2022.
Woodward said districts in the approved map have the most equal populations of any map in the last 30 years and that it maintains fewer communities split into different districts. “I should also note that at 19 (commissioners), Oakland County still remains the largest public body in Michigan outside the state legislature,” Woodward said. “And it will lend itself to efficient and more effective county government.”
Spisz drafted his map while serving on the five-member Re-apportionment Committee tasked with redrawing district boundaries following the release of the 2020 Census data. The committee had three Democrats (including Woodward) and two Republicans.
Under Spisz’s plan, District 3 would have remained mostly the same, retaining all of Brandon, Oxford and Addison townships, the majority of Oakland Township and part of Independence Township. The total population for that district would have been 62,033.
At the state level, the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission has finalized 15 potential maps that could be used for U.S. House, State Senate and State House district boundaries. Although earlier maps split Oxford Township in two districts, none of the 15 finalists split either Oxford or Addison. Both townships share the same district in each map. A final vote by the commission is scheduled at the end of the year.