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Three new members selected for Michigan redistricting commission

screenshot of zoom meeting
The Michigan Department of State randomly selected three members to fill vacancies on the state’s redistricting commission Wednesday. (Screenshot)
  • Two Democrats and one Republican were selected to fill vacancies on Michigan redistricting commission 
  • Replacements were selected from applicants who applied for the roles between October 2019 and June 2020
  • New members arrive as commissioners face a federal court order to redraw metro Detroit legislative maps

Three Michigan residents were selected to serve on the state’s independent redistricting commission Wednesday, filling vacancies on a panel that may soon have to revisit political districts following a federal court ruling.

Imlay City resident Elaine Andrade, Farmington Hills resident Donna Callaghan and Lincoln Park resident Marcus Muldoon were randomly selected Wednesday from a pool of applicants who initially applied to serve on the Michigan Independent Citizen Redistricting Commission between October 2019 and June 2020.


Andrade and Callaghan, who affiliate with the Democratic Party, are set to replace outgoing Commissioners Dustin Witjes and MC Rothhorn, both Democrats. Muldoon, 40, who affiliates with the Republican party, was selected to replace Republican Doug Clark. 


Acknowledging that “circumstances may have understandably changed” since those chosen submitted their redistricting applications, Sarah Reinhardt of the Department of State said Wednesday that another random selection process would take place if any of those selected are no longer willing or able to serve. 

Muldoon, reached by Bridge after the selection, said he was “just surprised” by the selection, but confirmed he will be accepting the role. 

In their respective applications, Andrade, 66, and Callaghan, 61, both said they believe citizen participation is important to democracy and thought the commission was a good opportunity to create fair political districts. 

“I believe strongly in our democracy, a democracy that truly represents the people,” Andrade wrote in the application. 

If all three accept, the new members will join the commission during a turbulent time. In recent weeks, three members have quit, others are publicly feuding, and the commission has yet to decide whether to appeal a federal court ruling that found 13 metro Detroit House and Senate districts need to be redrawn.

Two of the vacancies opened up when Witjes, a Democrat, and Clark, a Republican, stepped down after moving out of state. Clark has been living in California for medical reasons but maintains a residence in Michigan, and Witjes moved to Illinois to take a job.

Rothhorn, a Democratic commissioner, also submitted his resignation late last year, in part to spend more time on his family and other work, but also because he said the commission is currently suffering from “trust issues.” 

“The hardest part for me is just the mistrust on the commission, which feels like it's going to be hard to overcome, too hard for me to overcome,” Rothhorn told Bridge Michigan. 

Still, Rothhorn said he has faith new members coming in will help the current commission rebuild and “will do much better than a tired old soul like me.” 

On Friday, a federal three-judge panel will reconvene in Kalamazoo to determine next steps following a Dec. 21 ruling that found the commission violated Black voters’ rights by improperly relying on racial data to draw state legislative districts.

Earlier Wednesday, the three judges — Raymond Kethledge, Paul Maloney and Janet Neff, all appointees of former President George W. Bush — asked the commission and the metro Detroit voters who challenged the maps to come up with a timeline for redrawing the districts and a list of possible candidates for a special master to oversee that process. 

The commission could still vote to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, but hasn’t yet done so. At a late December meeting, Commissioner Steve Lett proposed an appeal, but the commissioners couldn’t vote on the proposal after three members abruptly left the meeting.

The commission is next scheduled to meet on Jan. 11. 

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