Oakland County Commissioner John Scott (R-Waterford, West Bloomfield) says his political future rests in the hands of the Michigan Supreme Court.
Although he has filed for reelection to the county’s governing body, he said he has also pulled nominating petitions for a possible run for the Waterford Township supervisor’s job, a position currently held by Democrat Carl Solden.
Depending on what the state Supreme Court decides, that could set up a hot political contest between two long-time west Oakland County elected officials.
At issue is whether the highest court in the state will rule that a new law assigning county board redistricting authority to the board itself is constitutional, essentially reversing rulings from the Ingham County Circuit Court issued in February and the Michigan Court of Appeals last week.
Scott said that if the high court deems that the law is constitutional and essentially winnows the county board from 25 to no more than 21 commissioner districts, the county board would likely be safely in the GOP’s hands for the next decade after Republicans redraw district boundaries.
However, if the Supreme Court determines that the law violates the state Constitution — effectively meaning that county board district lines drawn by county Democrats on the Oakland County Reapportionment Commission on a 3-2 vote in May stand — then it is possible that the county board could swing from Republican to Democratic control in the 2012 general election.
Scott, who was first elected to the county Board of Commissioners in 2002, doesn’t want that to happen.
“If they keep us at 25 commissioners, I have no choice but to run to seek reelection so we can keep Republican majority on the county board,” said Scott, who is a sales engineer with McMaster’s Koss in Royal Oak and also chairman of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG).
But the state Supreme Court has a Republican majority, a fact not lost on county Republicans who have brushed aside news of the two previous legal rulings on Public Act (PA) 280 of 2011 as just precursors to an ultimate showdown in the state’s high court.
The redistricting process for the Oakland County Board of Commissioners has been a contentious issue for nearly a year. The district map approved by Democrats withstood a legal challenge by county Republicans in the Michigan Court of Appeals. The state Legislature, handily dominated by the GOP, approved state Rep. Bradford Jacobsen’s (R-Lake Orion) House Bill 5187 toward the tail end of 2011, and Gov. Rick Snyder signed that enacting legislation into law.
Republicans argue that PA 280 of 2011 saves the county $250,000 a year in commissioner salaries and benefits, while Democrats contend that it’s a purely political maneuver to maintain Republican control on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.
County commissioners serve two-year terms and earn $32,093 annually.
Solden, who first won election as township supervisor in 2000, informed the Spinal Column Newsweekly on Monday, March 12 that he plans on seeking a fourth term as the township’s chief executive. A story on Solden’s decision appears on page 3 of today’s edition of the Spinal Column Newsweekly.
“I’ve heard (about Scott’s interest in the position), but I haven’t heard that pretext,” Solden said. “Hey, it’s a public office and anybody has a right to run for it.”