Former US Rep. Joe Schwarz joins the board of citizen redistricting campaign

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz of Battle Creek, who served for 15 years as a Republican state senator, two years in the U.S. House of Representatives, and finished second in the 2002 GOP gubernatorial primary, has joined the board of Voters Not Politicians, the non-partisan, volunteer-driven campaign to end partisan gerrymandering in Michigan.

Dr. Schwarz, a physician who as a legislator often supported bipartisan solutions to the state’s problems, said it’s time to create an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission that operates in full public view, instead of relying on political party leaders and lobbyists making decisions in private to draw district lines.

“The process Voters Not Politicians has laid out will require bipartisan cooperation in creating Michigan’s congressional and state legislative district lines,” Schwarz said. “And the discussion will be held in public, instead of behind closed doors. This would be an important step in restoring the faith of Michigan people in our democratic institutions.”

Both parties have a track record of using the redistricting process to benefit their interests, not those of Michiganders, Schwarz noted. He pointed to the current congressional situation, where voters have split nearly 50-50 in recent years, but Republicans control 9 of 14 seats.

“Pundits and pollsters are predicting Democrats may have a wave this year, and put themselves in position to control redistricting under our current process. That would likely create a similarly undemocratic outcome. I tell many of my Republican friends they should embrace the chance for a fair map that represents the voters of the state, and a real battle of ideas to determine our state’s future.”

Schwarz served as Battle Creek City Commissioner from 1979 to 1985 and was elected mayor of Battle Creek from 1985 to 1987. Between 1987 and 2002, Schwarz served as president pro tempore of the Michigan Senate. In 2004, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. He represented Michigan's 7th congressional district from January 2005 to January 2007 and now identifies as an Independent.

“The nonpartisan nature of Voters Not Politicians is essential,” said Schwarz. “We believe that partisan gerrymandering is wrong – no matter which party is in charge. That’s why our policy solution takes the drawing of lines out of the hands of politicians behind closed doors and gives it back to the people in an open, transparent, and inclusive process.”

As reported in the Grand Rapids Legal News 2/2/18, Voters Not Politicians is awaiting Board of State Canvassers review of the 440,000 plus signatures delivered to the Bureau of Elections in December, surpassing the required 315,654 signatures needed to get on the November 2018 ballot.


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