The Kenosha County Board passed a resolution Tuesday calling on the Legislature to create a nonpartisan, transparent process for drawing state legislative and U.S. Congressional district lines.
Kenosha is now the the 22nd Wisconsin county to approve such a resolution since current lines were drawn in 2011. The board voted 13-7 to approve what its authors dubbed the Fair Maps resolution. Jeffrey Gentz, Steve Bostrom, Greg Retzlaff, Jeff Wamboldt, Michael Skalitzky, John Poole and Erin Decker dissenting.
Calls for a new process became stronger after a panel of three federal judges in 2016 ruled 2-1 that current state legislative districts are unconstitutional and partisan. New maps were ordered to be completed by November 2017.
However, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel appealed the ruling earlier this year to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will have the final say. A decision is expected this year.
“I am thrilled the Supreme Court has granted our request to review the redistricting decision and that Wisconsin will have an opportunity to defend its redistricting process,” Schimel said in June. “As I have said before, our redistricting process was entirely lawful and constitutional, and the district court should be reversed.”
However, others believe the maps give Republicans an unfair advantage in the state.
“Since hyper-partisan conservative legislators gerrymandered district lines in 2011 to benefit incumbents of their own political party, voters throughout Wisconsin have realized their voices are no longer heard in Madison,” said Anna Dvorak, organizer for Citizen Action of Wisconsin, in a statement to the Kenosha News.
According to the resolution, the state has spent $2 million to defend the current maps.
Supervisors weigh in
“The resolution is an expression of the viewpoint, ‘One person, One vote,’” County Board Supervisor Terry Rose said. “This probably should have been passed a long time ago — long before it got to the court system.”
Rose, a local attorney, said he predicts the court will not uphold the current redistricting.
Poole disagreed and said he believes the current system is working.
“It’s already at the Supreme Court, so I think it’s a moot point,” Poole said. “I don’t see why we need to keep fighting here. We’re supposed to be a nonpartisan board. ... I know what gerrymandering is, and we don’t have it up here.”
Decker, chairwoman of the local Republican Party, said the resolution was “very partisan.”
“It is going to the Supreme Court, and this issue needs to be decided by the Supreme Court. ... We need a final decision.”
Decker said a final ruling will also help guide other states grappling with the issue.