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Redistricting Panel Hears Of Past Gerrymandering In Milwaukee County

The People's Maps Commission heard from several invited speakers Thursday night, including Oneida Nation Chairman Tehassi Hill and Milwaukee attorneys Rebeca Lopez and James Hall, Jr.

The non-partisan state panel charged with drawing fair, impartial election maps for Wisconsin legislative and Congressional districts this year turned its focus to the 4th Congressional District in Milwaukee County Thursday night. 

The People's Maps Commission heard from local attorneys and leaders of the Hmong and the Oneida Nation communities, who argued past gerrymandering has hurt low-income and non-white citizens.

In testimony from the general public, Angela Lang of Black Leaders Organizing for Communities urged the commission to provide maps that are avenues for everyone to be heard by their lawmaker, who might otherwise ignore them.

Credit Screengrab by Chuck Quirmbach
Angela Lang, of Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC) was one of several members of the public who spoke during Thursday night's hearing.

"Our communities are struggling. We call, we send letters, we request meetings, and the will of the people often isn't listened to, let alone upheld,” said Lang.

The People's Maps Commission announced that a redistricting lab at Tufts Universityin Massachusetts will be helping them with their work.

But Thursday night, local resident Matthew Petering said he's already developed a computer program that produces fair maps with partisan symmetry.

"Each party should have the same number of vulnerable districts that are expected to be won by a narrow margin in each map," said Petering. 

The commission will hold four more public hearings over the next two months before trying to produce maps. One speaker Thursday praised the panel for its work, but said the redistricting process will eventually wind up in court.

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