A new congressional district map approved by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission on Tuesday splits Berrien County into two different districts for the first time and places U.S. Rep. Fred Upton in the same district as another Republican incumbent.
The commission also approved new maps Tuesday for state Senate and House districts.
The commission voted to approve the Chestnut congressional map. The current 6th Congressional District encompasses the southwestern corner of the state and has typically been a Republican stronghold. Southwest Michigan residents will now be split into District 4 or District 5 for congressional elections.
District 4 includes the Berrien County cities of St. Joseph, Benton Harbor, Coloma and Watervliet, and the townships of St. Joseph, Benton, Hagar, Coloma, Watervliet and Bainbridge, as well as small sections of northwestern Lincoln Township and northwestern Oronoko Township.
Upton, R-St. Joseph, resides in the new District 4, which also includes all or parts of Van Buren, Allegan, Kalamazoo, Calhoun and Ottawa counties. U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, who represents what is now the Second Congressional District, also resides in the new District 4.
District 5 includes the rest of Berrien County, and all or parts of Cass, St. Joseph, Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Branch, Jackson, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties. It stretches from Lake Michigan to Lake Erie along the southern border of the state.
Upton’s office did not respond in time for comment. In November, Upton told The Herald-Palladium there were too many unknowns to speculate about his next steps. The representative said he doesn’t decide whether or not he’s running until the year of the election.
Representatives are not legally required to live in the district they represent; however, most choose to.
The commission brought five maps forward for public comment, three of which (Chestnut, Birch v2 and Apple v2) were collaborative and the other two (Lange and Szetela) were proposed by individuals commissioners. The Chestnut map will likely face court challenges before it is officially adopted.
The maps are being redrawn as Michigan is set to lose a congressional seat, creating 13 districts. Michigan voters in 2018 approved the creation of the commission to perform redistricting. The process, which previously had been done by the Legislature, is required after every 10-year census.
The approved state Senate map also splits Berrien County into separate districts. The dividing line is roughly Linco Road in the western half of the county and M-62 in the eastern half.
District 20 includes the northern half of Berrien County, most of Van Buren County (except Antwerp Township and the village of Mattawan), parts of Allegan County and a small section of Kent County. Sen. Kim LaSata, R-Bainbridge Township, currently resides in the new District 20.
District 17 includes the southern half of Berrien County, all of Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties, and parts of Calhoun, Jackson and Hillsdale counties.
The new state House map places parts of three separate districts in Berrien County and creates a snake-like district of Lake Michigan communities from New Buffalo to Saugatuck.
That district, 38, includes parts of Berrien, Van Buren and Allegan counties. Rep. Mary Whiteford, R-Casco Township, resides in the new District 38, but she cannot run again because of term limits.
District 37 includes southeastern Berrien County and western Cass County. Rep. Brad Paquette, R-Niles, resides in the new District 37.
District 39 includes most of Van Buren County and parts of Berrien and Allegan counties. Rep. Pauline Wendzel, R-Watervliet, resides in the new District 39.
District 36 includes eastern Cass County and all of St. Joseph County.
District 43 includes parts of Allegan, Ottawa, Barry and Eaton counties.