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Redistricting commission spokesperson assumes executive director role

The new executive director for the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission assumes the role Friday.

The group's communications director, Edward Woods III, will take on the second role in a move the commission says will save over $100,000 in personnel costs.

Woods said one of the next steps is getting a legal opinion for the commission's next meeting on how to dissolve itself.

“So we’re not wasting taxpayers’ money if we don’t have any work to do," Woods said, laying out some of the questions the legal opinion should answer, especially if the commission's maps draw further litigation. "What’s the proper way to end? What’s the proper way to start up? You know, if there becomes a lawsuit as a result of the August primary.”

Another responsibility Woods faces is asking the legislature for funds to address a projected $1.1 million budget shortfall. That deficit is associated with legal fees from defending the commission’s work.

He said he’ll go before lawmakers next month to ask for more funds.

“I mean if you look at it, we’ve cut costs in salaries, we’ve cut costs in terms of how we did our public hearings. I mean we have done — the commission has done a stellar job of cutting costs and being fiscal hawks,” Woods said.

The group faces two active lawsuits in federal court over the legislative district maps it drew.

One filed this week claims the group’s state House and Senate maps violate the federal Voting Rights Act by diluting Black votes in southeast Michigan. Another says populations in the new congressional districts are too uneven.

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