"I've been an elected official for twenty years, the first six as a councilmember and the last fourteen as mayor," says Gretchen Driskell about her political career in Saline, a city that grew 32 percent, to 8,810, between 1990 and 2010. Though she ran as a Democrat, Driskell says, she "wasn't very involved with partisan politics, because most of the issues we dealt with weren't really partisan issues."
That changed when she ran for state rep in the Fifty-Second District, which after the last redistricting encompasses Saline, western Washtenaw, and just a sliver of Ann Arbor. Driskell says the redrawn Fifty-Second is "evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. But a lot of people vote independent."
Driskell believes the county's changing demographics helped her win. "We're getting more population, and that affects us in an election. Our school systems bring in young families, and the Republicans made cuts in money to schools; Mark voted with them, and [the parents] didn't like that."
Mark Ouimet agrees that population change swung the election. "Without question. Ann Arbor has not grown, and the western part of the county has grown quite a bit, from people who wanted to be close to Ann Arbor for work but wanted more land or a more rural setting and moved west. The Democrats received the benefit of that move."