Stabenow, Peters Address Redistricting, Afghanistan at League of Women Voters Event
The Oakland Area League of Women Voters met at the Shenandoah Country Club on Saturday to discuss state, national and international politics.
How quickly should military personnel move out of Afghanistan? What is being done to control the invasive Asian carp in the Great Lakes? Which politicians will work where after congressional redistricting?
The Oakland Area League of Women Voters (LWV) held its annual meeting at the Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield on Saturday to ask these questions and more of U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Gary Peters, an Oakland County Democrat.
Described by LWV as “the elephant in the room” as the question was read aloud by one of about 50 in attendance, Peters was asked how congressional redistricting could change the scope of his constituency in the next two weeks. Michigan will lose one of its 15 congressional seats based on results of the 2010 Census.
Peters said he expects districts to get larger in area and population, to “about 710,000 people per district.” According to results of the 2000 Census, the 9th Congressional District encompasses a population of 662,563.
Republicans, who control both houses of the state Legislature, will have the most control over the process to redraw boundaries. Peters, a Bloomfield Hills resident, said that based on a draft map obtained by The Detroit News on May 28, he is expecting the new boundaries to “lock in partisanship” by combining the 9th and 12th districts, occupied by Rep. Sander Levin since 1983.
He joked with the audience to explain the situation in context to Stabenow’s appearance.
“That’s a hard question for me, because Sen. Stabenow doesn’t have to worry about redistricting," he said. "We’re not looking to change the boundaries of the state of Michigan … you recall the Toledo War, we think that’s a good deal,” he said.
However, Peters turned serious when he promised to run in the 2012 election in “whatever district it is” that he ends up with.
LWV member Toni Whitley said afterward that she felt reassured as a Peters supporter. “I automatically assumed that his position was going to be phased out, but I liked the way that he explained that he will still be able to run in another district,” said Whitley, an Auburn Hills resident.
Stabenow discusses ‘phase down’ in Afghanistan
The first question was asked to Stabenow with regard to President Barack Obama’s monthly war review meeting last week in advance of his decision on how many troops to bring home from Afghanistan next month. There are roughly 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan, according to CBS News.
Stabenow said it was “important we start in an aggressive way in July,” citing 15,000 as a number of troops to come home that month, supported by herself and U.S. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan. “It’s going to take a phase down over time. How we phase down is something we have a lot of discussions about,” she said.
New battery technology lauded
“Being from Michigan, I know that everyone’s biggest concerns lie within the manufacturing and farming economy,” Stabenow said. Indeed, Whitley said she was very interested in news Stabenow shared regarding advanced battery technology in Michigan.
“Before the stimulus package, the United States was making about 2 percent of the world’s advanced battery technology. Now it’s estimated we’re going to have the capacity by 2015 to make 40 percent of the world’s batteries, most of that in Michigan,” Stabenow said.
Money for battery technology designed for commercial electric and hybrid electric vehicles comprised $2 billion of the president’s $787 billion stimulus package signed in February 2009. According to Stabenow, the money has unleashed “tens of billions of dollars in investments.”
“That sounds promising as far as bringing in jobs,” Whitley said. “It interested me because I have a young son in high school and I’d like for him to stay for work after he graduates if possible.”