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April 16, 2021

3/25/2021 11:22:00 AM
Deciphering Democracy: Iowa County residents speak during second congressional district hearing
The work to end gerrymandering continues for the state of Wisconsin, and even more so for Iowa County.
At last June's Iowa County Board meeting, a resolution was passed, granting permission for a county-wide advisory referendum to be placed on the November ballot. The referendum reads: "Should the Wisconsin legislature create a non-partisan procedure for the preparation of legislative and congressional redistricting plans and maps."
The Fair Elections Project explains that gerrymandering is a "practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan or incumbent-protected districts."
During this past November's election, 74% of Iowa County voters desired a fair nonpartisan process for drawing maps.
However, while the Iowa County resolution was passed, the conservative based Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty ("WILL"), filed a petition in June requesting that the state Supreme Court make the final call on any future redistricting litigation.
This does not sit well with private citizens and with the Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition because it is believed that the ruling would "limit the review of maps and rush the process."
While most Republican representatives are opposing a fair system, two local Republican representatives are responding differently to their Republican colleagues. Representatives Todd Novak of Dodgeville Assemblyman of District 51, and Travis Tranel, Assemblyman of District 49 of Cuba City - have joined Democrats in co-sponsoring Assembly Bill 303, which takes the politics out of redrawing district lines next year.
The People's Maps Commission has been hosting a series of virtual public hearings throughout Wisconsin. Citizens are testifying to how the redistricting of legislative maps affect their communities, families and businesses.
This past Thursday, multiple Iowa County residents let their voices be heard. In her testimony, Myra Enloe of Dodgeville explained how the redistricting would affect her. She stated that her legislators have been unwilling to engage in discussion with her, leading to issues important to her going unaddressed-medicaid expansion, background checks, nonpartisan redistricting, and campaign finance reform.
"I volunteer at a free clinic in Dodgeville," Enloe said. "It is heartbreaking to see working people in need of care because they don't have any health insurance, and to see health insurance evaporate when someone loses a job. Many friends and family members have disengaged from politics. They are turned off by the extreme partisan dialogue and they don't think their vote matters. In a gerrymandered state, they may be right."
"Gerrymandering is a threat to representative democracy," Enloe added. "I believe we need at least two strong political parties to assure there is competition of ideas. No party should be able to draw voting district maps to maintain their power."
When Janet Brandt of Arena moved to Iowa County more than 15 years ago, the entire county, except for three small villages on its western border, was in one Assembly district, district 51. The legislative representative from the district was able to stay in touch with the people in the county, got to know their concerns, and was accountable.
That changed when the gerrymandering took place in 2011-causing Iowa County to split into three districts. Sections of Iowa County were scattered among three different Assembly districts (49, 51, 80). Montfort, Livingston and Muscoda straddle counties, however those parts are in District 49 in Grant County. Worst are districts 80 and 81 where Iowa County residents account for less than 5% of that Assembly district's total population....
(See the rest of this story in the March 18, 2021 Chronicle issue)

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