2001-05-26 Holland Sentinel Board reduces county districts to 11

Board reduces county districts to 11
Holland Sentinel

West Olive-Government representation in Ottawa County will carry more weight now that the county board of commissioners has been reduced from 13 to 11 members. In a meeting on Friday, the Ottawa County Reapportionment Board unanimously made the determination, which essentially increased the size of each district while reducing the total number by two.

The board includes county Clerk Dan Krueger, Prosecuting Attorney Ron Frantz, Treasurer Mary Richardson, Ottawa County Republican Party Chairman Jack Holmes and Ottawa County Democratic Party Chairman John c. O’Brien.

Ottawa County had 11 districts form 1971 to 1991, when the redistricting board increased the county board of commissioners to 13. The new county district map has a population deviation of 4.5 percent, or a difference of 976 people from the highest number of people in a district and the lowest.

The districts currently held by Commissioner Joe Haveman and Ed Berghorst will be combined, as well as two districts in Georgetown Township, which Berghorst said wasn’t necessarily good. “There’s such diversity,” he said of the area the new district encompasses, which combines Holland and Zeeland Township.

The vote came as good news to Gail Harrison of the Racial Coalition for Justice, a group formed to represent minorities during the redistricting process. She said that minority votes will now count more now that minorities make up 25 percent of districts in Holland and Holland Township, and minorities make up 10 to 15 percent of the populations in Park and Olive townships, with that number expected to grow.

“It’s certainly much better to have a couple districts out of 11 than 15,” Harrison said. “The bottom line is, now, who are our commissioners going to be?” The county board of commissioners will remain the same until the November 2002 election.