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Letter to the Editor: The Nature of Wisconsin’s Redistricting

We continue to pursue the end of gerrymandering as relentlessly as a “terrier with a sock in her mouth.”

In the recent Peninsula Pulse story, “The Politics of Mapmaking,” Rep. Joel Kitchens explained his rationale for voting for Senate Resolution 63, which seeks to preserve existing gerrymandered districts as they were created in 2011. 

“I truly do not believe the maps are as bad as opponents make them out to be,” he said.

The opponents of gerrymandering are 70-80% of his constituency. On selecting an impartial board, Kitchens said that some believe there’s no such thing – that people have their biases. In addition to the cynicism that a group of Wisconsin citizens could ever act impartially, it’s not just the people selected to redraw district maps, but also the rules and processes under which the maps are drawn – and, hence, Senate Resolution 63. 

But remember how we got here.

The existing 2011-12 maps that Rep. Kitchens views as not so bad were created in absolute secrecy, behind glass walls and the locked doors of a back room in US Bank Plaza, in a law office where attorneys and data scientists hired by Republican legislators spent months creating gerrymandered redistricting maps that would ensure Republicans retained control of the Legislature for the next decade.

When the courts became involved, they wrote that the Republican Legislature gave “every appearance of flailing wildly in a desperate attempt to hide from both the court and the public the true nature of exactly what transpired in the redistricting process.” The court further described explanations of the process as “filled with disinformation, foot-dragging and obfuscation.”

Once Rep. Kitchens courageously seemed to be open to correcting this, but now he seeks to preserve one of the sleaziest pieces of Wisconsin’s political history.

Norman J. Wilsman

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin