Hammersmith onboarded as independent redistricting panel director 

    Michigan congressional districts | Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

    Michigan’s autonomous Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission has chosen its new leader this week, who will assist the panel of 13 randomly selected citizens in drawing the state’s new U.S. congressional and state House and Senate district lines next year.

    Suann Courtright Hammersmith, the president of a consulting firm for nonprofits, was selected Tuesday from a pool of six finalists.

    Hammersmith also was the initial all-around favorite from commissioners when all candidates were interviewed on Nov. 20. After that meeting, panel members decided to schedule another between then and Dec. 3 to narrow down the field.

    That meeting happened on Tuesday, according to the commission’s website. A motion that day to hold a second round of interviewers failed unanimously, after which Commissioner Douglas James Clark made a successful motion to conduct ranked voting on the top four candidates — Hammersmith, Sheryl Mitchell, Janette Phillips and Brandon Brice.

    Independent redistricting panel tables director hiring decision

    Hammersmith was the No. 1 choice of seven commissioners; Mitchell was the first choice for five, and Phillips was the first choice for one.

    During a subsequent meeting Thursday afternoon, which was set to be the day that the new executive director was onboarded, the commission members said that a formal offer letter has yet to be extended to Hammersmith. Salary negotiations, which are expected to be within the $124,025 to $164,321 range, have also not occurred.

    The panel’s executive director will have various staffing, legal, strategic, administrative and managerial duties to assist the commissioners throughout the redistricting process. Michigan’s district maps are notoriously gerrymandered and are considered among the worst in the country.

    The commission holds its next meeting Friday. Both the general counsel position and the communications and outreach director candidate position are yet to be determined.

    Laina G. Stebbins
    Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, immigration and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).