By Kris Leonhardt/Shane Fitzsimmons
Press Times staff
GREEN BAY – Northeast Wisconsin Fair Maps Advocates rallied Nov. 21 at the Brown County Courthouse in Green Bay.
The event was organized “to bring attention to the start of the Wisconsin Supreme Court oral arguments” for Clarke v. Wisconsin Elections Commission lawsuit.
On Aug. 2, Rebecca Clarke and 19 other petitioners filed a lawsuit with the Wisconsin Supreme Court alleging that the state’s legislative maps are “unconstitutional extreme partisan gerrymander” and that they “violate Article IV, Sections 4 and 5 of the Wisconsin Constitution because the districts do not consist of ‘contiguous territory’ and violate the Wisconsin Constitution’s separation-of-powers doctrine.”
“We are here on behalf of the people of Wisconsin because we believe in fair maps, and we know the people of Wisconsin want fair maps because we’ve got the data to prove it,” said Dr. Kristen Lyerly, who organized the event along with Jane Benson and Penny Bernard Shaber.
“Over and over again the people of Wisconsin have stood up and said what’s happening right now in our state does not reflect who we are. So today oral arguments begin in Madison, it’s happening right now, and here we are in Green Bay gathering together to make sure that people understand that across the states we’re all on board. We want fair maps, we want representation.”
Denmark Senior Henry Pahlow, National Vice Chair of High School Democrats, will be voting for the first time in 2024 and was a speaker at the event.
“Young people across the country, and especially in the state, can feel disconnected from the political system and that because we don’t have fair maps, people in my generation sometimes consider what’s the point of me voting or running for office or getting involved because the outcome of the election is already decided by how the maps are drawn to benefit a certain political party, and I believe that by getting fair maps we can, No. 1, show young people that their voice does matter, that they can make a change at the issues they care about will be heard by those in government, and No. 2, it can encourage them to run for office because if young people know that they have a shot at actually winning and bringing their voices to Madison when they have a district that allows them to run a competitive race, they’ll start running for office and trying to make the voices heard,” he said.
“So, I think fair maps is not just a political issue, it’s a democratic issue and it’s an issue of engaging young people across the state so that they feel like they have something at stake in today’s political system.”
Others speaking at the event included President of the Greater Green Bay Labor Council Steve McFarlane and Assembly District 90 Rep. Kristina Shelton.
Also on hand was former Assembly District 57 Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber, who said that Wisconsin “really needs to have a fair mapping process for the legislative districts.”
“The ultimate solution is for the legislature to pass either a constitutional amendment or a law that sets up a process by which there’s no partisan advantage to drawing the maps,” she said.