Commissioners’ districts will remain set at five for next decade

by Peter Jakey

Managing Editor

There will be no changes to the number of commissioners serving Presque Isle County. 

The apportionment committee consists of county department heads: clerk Ann Marie Main, prosecutor Ken Radzibon and treasurer Bridget LaLonde, along with chairs of the Republican and Democratic parties.

The group had been meeting for several months and made its final decision, Oct. 8, on a 3-2 vote.  

Approving it were Main, LaLonde and Jennifer Kuznicki, chair of the Republican Party of Presque Isle County. Voting against it were Radzibon and Rachel Goodstein, chair of the Democratic Party of Presque Isle County. The plan was submitted by Main.

The county board will remain right where it has been for the last 20 years at five; however, there were some boundary changes approved. 

“There is a split in the city of Rogers City that will occur,” said Main, reporting to the county board, Oct. 13. “There were a couple of changes with townships being moved from one district to another.”

There were proposals put on the table that would have increased the number of commissioners to as high as eight, but in the end, the status quo was agreed upon. 

“We are going to have another meeting, Oct. 22 at 2 p.m., to reaffirm, because of the way the statutes are written,” said Main.

Goodstein believes the county would be best served with a plan that includes seven or eight commissioners. It was at eight until the apportionment committee decided to reduce it to five in 2001.

“In 2000 to 2010 the districts were reduced to five with 2,882 people each,” stated Goodstein in a press release that came out hours before the Oct. 8 meeting.  “Part of the reduction rationale was the hiring of a county administrator. That never happened.”  

From 2010 to 2020 there have been five districts with 2675 people, she stated.

“The trend has been less participatory and less democratic,” stated Goodstein. “That trend should end. It does not serve the county. There needs to be more representation. Representation of the population centers. Districts that represent the needs of the county.” 

“It is hard, actually impossible, to draw square districts within a triangular county,” Goodstein continued. “Rect

angular townships with acres of state land and light population and a C-shaped Rogers Township encircling Rogers City, complicate the map drawing process.   

“Population growth and density doesn’t follow township lines. It has followed the dominant geographic features of the county—lakes: Grand, Long and Huron.”

“We have divided the district proportionately and we followed the statute,” said Kuznicki. 

As part of the new plan, Belknap Township will be in District 2 and Moltke Township will be in District 4. District 1 and 5 did not change.

“It was an easy process,” said Kuznicki, referring to the Rogers City split along U.S.-23. “Other people want to make it more complicated because they have different ends that they are looking for. But the whole purpose of the statute is to reapportion by population.”