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December 7, 2021

11/11/2021 10:15:00 AM
Keep counties together, instead of odd strips of five counties

Dear Editor;
I waited nine hours during Oct 28th's public hearing on Bills SB 621 & 622. GOP leader Robin Vos declared their new redistricting plan did have partisan considerations and maintained most lines from 2011. He repeated several times that he is not a lawyer, but that now the maps are constitutional.
When called up at 4 PM, I said I could complain again about the Eastern third of Iowa County (where I live) being put again in with Madison suburbs rather than left whole in the Driftless Area 51st Assembly District. I stressed my concern that now the 51st Assembly District that Todd Novak serves is again an odd long strip of parts of five different counties. He has parts of 18 different School Districts.
I then announced that the main reason I came to testify was my concern of our Native Nations in Northern WI being split into odd Districts. I showed on their screen just one of many examples of how the extreme gerrymandering adopted ten years ago would, if maintained as proposed, continue to dilute the voices of our indigenous citizens. You could hear a pin drop as I had to tell the person with the pointer, yes, "up and over into the next county" four times.
Time was called before I had finished. The chair asked for any alternative maps. I said I had already submitted several into their portal.
The next part was the most surprising. Unexpected by me, were two speakers who had traveled from the farthest North of WI (from the Red Cliff and Bad River Reservations). They thanked me for what I had said and carried on where I left off, telling their compelling stories about land and people of the North.
They reinforced that by keeping adjoining counties with Native communities together in a State Senate District would help their voices be heard. They were in shock that taxpayers paid $4 million for last time's legal fees for outside lawyers creating and defending their 2011 maps. They said their parents struggled for health care and there was a six month wait for mental health care.

Mary Kay Baum
Ridgeway, WI

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