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May 26, 2019

4/25/2019 9:51:00 AM
Open letter to Iowa County Supervisors

Dear Editor:
I am delighted that this evening you are taking up a Resolution calling for nonpartisan redistricting. I hope you will join the 42 counties who have already passed similar resolutions. See those on first attachment. And thank you for already supporting this concept within the WI Counties Association.
Some of you know I grew up on a dairy farm in North East WI. My parents were both WWII veterans and, like you, public service was in their blood. When I studied and worked in Dane County I carried on those traditions in public office. Meanwhile I also maintained a deep connection to my rural roots by spending part of my time in Iowa County.
In 2006 I had to retire early due to my cognitive health challenges. So I moved full-time to Iowa County. It has been very good for my health. I now live in the Village of Ridgeway. I serve as the volunteer steward of the Ridgeway Pine Relict State Natural Area. And this very evening I start serving on the Board of Trustees for the Village of Ridgeway.
Wisconsin's Constitution (Art. IV) requires voting maps to be Compact, Contiguous, and Preserve Political Subdivisions. Traditionally this has been fulfilled by having Iowa County all within ONE Assembly District. That makes sense to me as I shop, socialize, and have common interests in Dodgeville. My neighbor's children are part of the Dodgeville School District.
I was shocked to find that those of us in Eastern Iowa County - Ridgeway and Hollandale - could not, as of 2011 vote with the rest of Iowa County for State Assembly, State Senate, and Congressional Representatives.
How did this happen? The 2011 leadership of the dominant legislative party (in this case Republican Legislative Leadership) chose to "Pack" Ridgeway and Hollandale into Assembly District 80. The 80th stretches all the way to the edge of Madison and includes the cities of Fitchburg and Verona and the villages of Oregon and Mt Horeb. It was an attempt to concentrate as many progressive leaning voters as possible into fewer Districts. See second attachment for the unusual Map for this area which breaks up counties unnecessarily. But this was done in extreme ways all around the State. And it was done so quickly and quietly that they skipped the role of local municipalities to first designate the smallest voting districts within their area that could not divided into more than one Assembly District.
In 2016 the Western District U. S. Federal Court struck down this entire 2011 Assembly District Map as unconstitutional, finding its creators (Republican party leadership) had intended to reduce the voting powers of their political opponents and succeeded. The Court ordered state lawmakers to draft a remedial redistricting plan for use in the November 2018 election. But the case was appealed and no remapping was done. The Gill v. Whitford case will finally have oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court this July.
On top of all of this, we taxpayers are expected to pay for the almost $4 million for the secret drafting of the Map and now for lawyers defending this Map. I would much prefer to pay toward $20,000 to have a nonpartisan commission prepare maps for consideration by our Legislature than to ever waste taxpayer money again on such overtly partisan Maps.
If you get a chance you will gain much by watching this 8 minute summary: https://youtu.be/_OyLWMVexpU
Most Sincerely,
Mary Kay Baum, Ridgeway



Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2019
Article comment by: Mary Kay Baum

Of course that should have been:
I correct my 4-16-19 opinion piece to clarify that the Gill v. Whitford court case will have oral arguments the middle of this July in front of the Federal District Court of Western Wisconsin (not the U. S. Supreme Court).
Thank you, Iowa County Supervisors, for joining 47 counties in overwhelmingly passing the Resolution on redistricting. May Wisconsin spend taxpayer money on what we need, like local road repair, rather than trying to defend intentionally partisan gerrymandering.


Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2019
Article comment by: Mary Kay Baum

I correct my 2-16-19 opinion piece to clarify that the Gill v. Whitford court case will have oral arguments the middle of this July in front of the Federal District Court of Western Wisconsin (not the U. S. Supreme Court).
Thank you, Iowa County Supervisors, for joining 47 counties in overwhelmingly passing the Resolution on redistricting. May Wisconsin spend taxpayer money on what we need, like local road repair, rather than trying to defend intentionally partisan gerrymandering.




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