Last Tuesday, Lincoln County forwarded a resolution to the WCA (Wisconsin County Association) in support of the revamping of the state’s congressional districts.
In passing the resolution authored by 11th District Supervisor Hans Breitenmoser, the county’s message of support will be relayed to the WCA, with hopes the WCA in turn will lobby for the restructuring with the state legislature.
“As you recall, back in March this body overwhelmingly passed a resolution insisting on a nonpartisan procedure for drawing legislative and congressional boundaries,” Breitenmoser stated of his resolution. “So far 16 other counties all around the state of have passed similar resolutions. And as we speak there are county board supervisors in about a half dozen more counties who are going to attempt to get resolutions on their county board agendas soon,” he explained.
And those are just the ones I know about, there may be more. These county boards no longer want their counties carved up by political parties interested only in partisan politics. Republicans, democrats and independents alike, are tired of seeing tax payer money used to pay lawyers to defend a system that protects the interests of political parties above the interests of the citizenry. These County board supervisors are public servants not just partisans. And they understand that the status quo will guaranty we will have more law suits in the future. And who will pay for them?
So the reason I bring this very important issue back up is because each year counties have the opportunity to submit resolutions to the WCA for consideration at the Annual Business Meeting held in conjunction with the WCA annual Conference. Resolutions adopted at the annual business meeting become part of the WCA platform.”
“Lincoln County has made a statement along with our 16 counterparts. The logical next step is for our association to make the same statement, and in doing so make it very clear to our politicians that counties want a nonpartisan procedure for drawing legislative and congressional lines. And so I ask that we refer our resolution to the WCA for consideration at the annual business meeting,” he added.
As Breitenmoser alluded to, the board passed a measure on March 21 supporting the creation of a Nonpartisan Procedure for the Preparation of Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Plans.
As stated in the resolution-also authored by Breitenmoser-which passed 18-4 (Bill Bialecki (District 1), Kirby Crosby (District 13), Loretta Baughan (District 10) and Bill Zeitz (District 9)/Opposed):
“Currently under the state constitution, the legislature is directed to redistrict legislative districts according to the number of inhabitants, at its next session following the decennial federal census by the majority party. At the same intervals, the legislature also reapportions congressional districts pursuant to federal law. Legislative and congressional redistricting plans enacted pursuant to this procedure, are used to elect members of the legislature and members of Congress in the fall of the second year following the year of the census.
“Historically, legislative and congressional plans in Wisconsin have been subject to partisan influence that put the desires of politicians ahead of the electoral prerogative of the people. The 2011 process to draw the maps and fight litigation contesting those maps cost taxpayers nearly $1.9 million. A panel of federal district court judges has ruled that the redistricting that was done in Wisconsin in 2011 was unconstitutional and redistricting to achieve partisan gains is improper, whether it is done by Republicans or Democrats.
“THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors insists upon the creation of a nonpartisan procedure for the preparation of legislative and congressional redistricting plans, and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the process promotes more accountability and transparency and prohibits the consideration of voting patterns, party information, and incumbents’ residence information or demographic information in drawing the maps, except as necessary to ensure minority participation as required by the U.S. Constitution.”
During discussion Tuesday, Zeitz once again voiced his opposition.
“I was of the minority who voted against this in March, “he stated. I’d like to know where these non-partisan people will come from. Will they just come down from the heavens? I’m getting a little sick of individuals who lost the election, trying and continue trying to overturn the results.”
Following passage, the board directed County Clerk Chris Marlowe to send the resolution directly to Governor Scott Walker (R-Wauwatosa), all members of the state legislature as well as well as each of the 71 counties in the state in addition to the WCA.
The WCA’s Annual Conference is set for September 24-26 in Wisconsin Dells.