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Cass County trustee sues redistricting board over city divisions


A lawsuit alleging partisan gerrymandering of Cass County commission districts could get a hearing soon in a state court.

Cassopolis resident James Pedersen filed the suit against the Cass County Apportionment committee, which is charged with redrawing the county commission districts. Pedersen, who’s also a Cassopolis village trustee, accuses the committee of illegally dividing up the City of Dowagiac for GOP advantage.

Pedersen says if Dowagiac’s kept in one piece, Democrats have a shot at winning a seat on the heavily Republican commission. But the new map divides the city, which he says splits up the county’s largest share of minority voters. "For them to say that Cass County can’t have one seat where a Democrat has a chance of getting elected…that’s just wrong."

The chair of the apportionment board did not respond to a request for comment. The case is before the Michigan Court of Appeals. It appears likely to schedule a hearing, and to announce the date within a couple of weeks.

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in January 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. Before that she covered a variety of topics, including environmental issues, for Bloomington, Indiana NPR and PBS affiliates WFIU and WTIU. She’s also written and produced stories for the Pacifica Network and WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Sehvilla holds a B.A. in French from Earlham College and an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University.