October 10, 2019
At a press conference this morning in Marshfield, speaker after speaker denounced gerrymandering in Wisconsin and promoted the upcoming Fair Maps for Wisconsin Summit, which will be held in Marshfield on Nov. 9.
Former Assembly Representative Amy Sue Vruwink, who used to represent Marshfield before her own district was gerrymandered, said it’s very “disheartening” and “confusing” for voters when their districts get gerrymandered because they don’t know who to turn to with their problems. She added another problem: “It takes away the opportunity for good people to run for public office when they know that it’s stacked against them.”
Marshfield City Councilman and former Marshfield Mayor Chris Jockheck said that letting the political party in power rig the district lines is “like letting the fox design the henhouse.” One result, he says, is that elected officials don’t have to respect a lot of their voters because they’ve got a safe seat no matter what.
Laura Gottlieb of Indivisible Madison said gerrymandering “deprives Wisconsinites of equal representation” and “it leads to polarization, hyper-partisanship, and incivility.” She added: “It’s also expensive,” noting that the Republican gerrymander in 2011 cost taxpayers approximately $4 million.
Matt Rothschild, the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, stressed the fact that banning gerrymandering is popular across ideological chasms. He pointed to a Marquette Law School poll earlier this year that showed that 72 percent of Wisconsinites favor banning gerrymandering, and that includes 63 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Independents. “At some point, elected officials who keep stymieing the will of the people will pay a price at the voting booth,” he warned.
Carlene Bechen of Oregon Area Progressives, which is convening the Fair Maps for Wisconsin Summit, explained why they’ve chosen Marshfield.
“We were very intentional,” she said. “Marshfield is in the center of Wisconsin, which makes it convenient for people all across this state who are concerned about the rigging of our political maps to participate. And we wanted to hold the summit in a place that has itself been gerrymandered, as Marshfield and Wood County have been. In 2011, both the city and county were carved into two districts instead of one.”
For more information on the summit, go to: www.fairmaps4wisummit.com.