Number of commission seats will go up or down
WEST OLIVE - The makeup of the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners will change in 2002, after the future of the currently all-Republican board was determined Wednesday by the swing vote of a Democrat. Ottawa County Democratic Party Chair John O’Brien played the wild card in a series of three motions voted on by the Ottawa County Reapportionment Board.
The motions narrowed the number of commissioner districts being considered to 11 and 15. A motion to consider 13 commissioner districts, the current composition for the board, was defeated 3-2. Public commentary has largely favored remaining at 13 commissioners.
“My view is that we’ve experimented with 13 commissioners over the last 10 years and we should continue,” said Hudsonville resident Denis Greyson. The five-member reapportionment board is charged with redrawing the lines of county commissioner districts according to 2000 census population figures.
The board also decides how many commissioners will represent the county. The possible range runs from five to 21 commissioners. The board was divided into two camps. County Treasurer Mary Richardson and county Clerk Dan Krueger favored a going down to 11. Ottawa County Republican Party Chair jack Holmes and county Prosecuting Attorney Ron Frantz called for remaining at 13 or increasing to 15.
The Racial Coalition for Justice, a group formed to represent county minorities during t he reapportionment process, recommended maps with 11 commissioner districts. Maps with 15 commissioner districts would dilute minority influence, according to Gail Harrison, who represented the group. Minorities would have significant representation in four districts on an 11-commissioner board, Harrison said.