Type: Public event

Michigan redistricting: Making public hearings fair and effective

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Apr 20, 2021, 7:00-8:00 pm EDT
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This is a Virtual Event.

Free and open to the public. Register here to receive the viewing link via email. The viewing link will be emailed one day before the event.

In 2018 Michigan voters approved a Constitutional amendment to change how redistricting is done in the state, removing the process from the purview of the state legislature and placing it in the hands of a new Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC). The amendment also prescribes priorities the MICRC must address when drawing new district maps, placing the concept of “communities of interest” (COIs) near the top of the list. 

At this webinar, MICRC Commissioners Douglas Clark, Rebbeca Szetela and Dustin Witjes will introduce themselves and discuss plans for their first public hearings, which will take place all over the state in May and June. Then, a panel of redistricting experts from a variety of states will share key lessons for fair and effective public hearings, and will offer tips to Michigan’s Commissioners, COIs, and the public as they prepare for the hearings.

This event will be live-captioned.

Presenters

Douglas Clark is a Commissioner on the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC). As a retired operations and development manager, Commissioner Douglas J. Clark, Jr. affiliates as a Republican on the MICRC. During his career, Commissioner Clark worked for large, multinational companies and served in the U.S. Army as a Captain in various armor and air cavalry units. In applying to serve on the MICRC, Commissioner Clark, resident of Rochester Hills for 43 years, believes that it is important to ensure a fair and impartial redistricting process. Being processoriented, Commissioner Clark recognizes the role that process plays in determining independent maps for Michigan Congressional, House and Senate districts.

Kathay Feng is Common Cause’s National Redistricting Director. Feng has led Common Cause’s work to challenge partisan and incumbent gerrymandering, through litigation, state-based organizing around ballot initiatives and legislation and creating new platforms for community-based redistricting. As Executive Director of California Common Cause, she championed and won election and redistricting reforms, stronger government sunshine and accountability laws, campaign finance reforms, stronger net neutrality laws, and the voting rights of traditionally disenfranchised communities. Kathay is the architect of California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission, leading the multi-year effort to study, write, and pass the two initiatives, Propositions 11 and 20, that created the commission and new community-focused process. She also led efforts that secured passage of California laws bringing online voter registration and same day registration (called conditional voter registration) to the state.

Locally, Kathay helped lead successful efforts to improve Los Angeles’ matching funds campaign finance system, providing a super-match of public funds to city office candidates that raise small dollar donations from city residents. Under Kathay’s leadership, CCC has anchored California’s election protection efforts, assisting and independently monitoring elections throughout the state, since 2006. Kathay has been an activist and civil rights attorney in California for more than 20 years.

Before joining Common Cause in 2005, she headed the Voting Rights and Anti-Discrimination Unit at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. She helped the center secure key voting rights, anti-hate crime, language rights and consumer rights laws while also working on high profile hate crimes cases, civil liberties advocacy, and election monitoring and polling. Her advocacy led to creation of the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review, which provides citizen oversight over the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department on issues ranging from discrimination to use of force. She serves, or has served, on numerous boards including the California Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on Voter Participation and Outreach, the LA County Human Relations Commission, and the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council. She is a graduate of Cornell University, and holds a law degree from UCLA School of Law.

Colleen Mathis is former Chair of Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission (2011-2021).  As a registered Independent from Tucson, Arizona, Colleen Coyle Mathis volunteered to serve and was unanimously chosen as chair of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission by the four appointed commissioners in 2011. Her position ended in January 2021 when the new chair was appointed. Colleen has shared her experience in other states seeking to adopt independent redistricting as well as at numerous conferences and forums. Colleen earned a master’s degree in environmental management from Yale University and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Illinois. She is a demand consultant for Large Mining Trucks at Caterpillar, an affiliate of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University and principal at Willet Creek Consulting, specializing in nonprofit management, communications and business development.

Andre Parvenu is State Commissioner at California State Citizen's Redistricting Commission. Andre Parvenu is a multi-disciplinary professional with a strong background in Planning, Public Affairs, and Community Relations.

Mr. Parvenu has gained professional experience as a Geographer, Urban Planner, Community Outreach Specialist, and former City Planner and Zoning Analyst with the Los Angeles Department of City Planning. He presently serves as a California State Redistricting Commissioner, and is a member of the Technical Advisory and Community Outreach Committees. He also serves as a volunteer Planning Consultant/Advisor for several Neighborhood Councils in the City of Los Angeles. Prior experiences have included Project Manager, Community Relations Manager, and Senior Communications Officer for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro); and Transportation Planning Manager for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) Community DASH program. Mr. Parvenu has also worked as a Community Partnership Specialist with the United States Census Bureau (Department of Commerce), a Crisis Relocation Planner with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and as a Migration Specialist with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Central America, in association with the Belize Ministry of Home Affairs. Mr. Parvenu received a Master of Science Degree in Geography from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has completed undergraduate coursework in geography, cartography, and urban studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland; in addition to architectural and civil engineering coursework at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Rebecca Szetela is a Commissioner on the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC).  As a lawyer, Commissioner Rebecca Szetela affiliates as an Independent on the MICRC. She also serves as the MICRC Vice Chairperson. In applying to serve on the MICRC, Commissioner Szetela believes that Michigan citizens from across the political spectrum can cooperatively create balanced legislative maps that ensure the fair representative of all Michigan voters in our election. Hailing from Wayne County for more than 45 years, Commissioner Szetela will also apply her experience as a daughter, wife, and mother of four children.

Nancy Wang is the executive director and a founding member of Voters Not Politicians, the grassroots group that led the successful 2018 ballot initiative campaign to amend the Michigan constitution to put voters, not politicians, in charge of redistricting in Michigan. In the 2020 election cycle, VNP launched the VoteSafe campaign to protect public health and the integrity of our elections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the VoteSafe program, VNP volunteer teams have helped to expand voting access for over 800,000 Michigan voters in 17 cities and townships, and VNP educated voters statewide on their safe voting options. Nancy is an attorney and received her bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of Michigan and her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.

Dustin Witjes is a Commissioner on the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC).  As a payroll specialist from Ypsilanti, Commissioner Dustin Witjes affiliates as a Democrat on the MICRC. In applying to serve on the MICRC, Commissioner Witjes desires to be a part of the flagship redistricting commission for our State. He wants to ensure that the people have a voice in voting and fairness to the next generation of voters who will turn 18 years old during the next 10 years without any gerrymandering by politicians for their voices to be heard.

Moderator:
Matt Grossmann
is Director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research and Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University.

His next book, Red State Blues: How the Conservative Revolution Stalled in the States, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press in October 2019. Grossmann is also co-author of Asymmetric Politics: Ideological Republicans and Group Interest Democrats, published by Oxford University Press in 2016 and winner of the Leon Epstein Outstanding Book Award from the American Political Science Association. His previous books include Artists of the Possible: Governing Networks and American Policy Change Since 1945, published by Oxford University Press in 2014 and The Not-So-Special Interests: Interest Groups, Public Representation and American Governance, published by Stanford University Press in 2012. He is co-author of Campaigns & Elections, the leading elections textbook from W.W. Norton. Grossmann serves as a Senior Fellow at the Niskanen Center in Washington, DC, host of The Science of Politics Podcast and a regular contributor at FiveThirtyEight. He has published op-eds in The New York Times and The Washington Post and academic articles in nineteen social science journals. Under Grossmann's leadership since January 2016, IPPSR added more than 60 affiliated faculty members, built a student Policy Fellows Program while expanding Public Policy Forums, public outreach and leadership training. He also created a policy-relevant research search engine, the Correlates of State Policy online database, and an online survey panel of political insiders.

Sponsors

The event is co-sponsored by the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), the Program in Practical Policy Engagement, Michigan State University Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Detroit Public TV, League of Women Voters of Michigan, and Voters Not Politicians, the citizen-led grassroots organization that spearheaded the effort to pass the amendment. 

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