A commission Gov. Tony Evers is asking to draw up nonpartisan maps for the Legislature to consider after the 2020 Census will include a range of Wisconsinites, from health care professionals to educators.
On Thursday, Gov. Tony Evers announced the members of the People’s Maps Commission. The nine-member commission, which includes representation from Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts, will hold at least eight public hearings across the state to discuss the redistricting process and collect input. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, those hearings — which will run from October through April 2021 — will be held online.
Ultimately, the nine-member commission will present nonpartisan district maps to the state Legislature, which has the final say on how those maps are drawn. Republicans, who have controlled the Legislature since redrawing district maps in 2011 despite losing all statewide offices in 2018, are expected to draft and pass their own maps.
Evers, who can veto the Legislature’s maps, has said the commission and map-making process won’t involve lobbyists or secrecy agreements, a reference to the last redistricting process in 2011 when Republicans controlled the Legislature and governor’s office.
“When elected officials are able to ignore the people they represent time and time again, something’s wrong, folks,” Evers said in a statement. “These nine Wisconsinites have stepped up to serve their neighbors and communities across our state. They won’t answer to any elected officials, candidates, or political parties — they’re going to be listening to people in every corner of our state to ensure Wisconsin’s next maps will truly belong to the people, not politicians.”
Supporters of the commission have said it should provide transparency and give courts a nonpartisan alternative if the process ends up in litigation. Other experts doubt whether the creation of the commission, which wasn’t created by the Legislature and doesn’t change state law, will have much of an effect on how the maps are drawn.
Fifty-four of the state’s 72 counties have passed resolutions in support of nonpartisan redistricting. A January 2019 Marquette Law School Poll found that more than 70% of respondents also prefer nonpartisan maps.
Commission members were chosen by three retired judges — a mix of former appointees by both Democratic and Republican governors. A total of 270 people applied to be on the commission.
Campaign finance records show three members have donated to Democrats. Another two signed the 2011 petition to recall then-Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, according to an online database. One member has donated to Republicans.
Commission members are:
- , executive assistant to the Board of Education for the Racine Unified School District . Tobias is a member of the Wisconsin Association of School Superintendents and the American Society of Administrative Professionals. She signed the Walker recall petition.
Ruben Anthony Jr.
- , president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison in Middleton. Anthony previously worked at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Between 2005 and 2007, Ruben donated more than $2,800 to former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.
- , who formerly worked in manufacturing and clinical research in Menomonie. McClellan is co-president of a chapter of the League of Women Voters and has served as a poll worker and election observer.
- , an Appleton resident and physician with Theda Care Hematology and Oncology. Phillips has been involved with several grassroots organizations working on election and campaign issues, including Fair Maps Wisconsin and Voters First WI. Phillips donated more than $2,000 to Republican lawmakers in 2018, including former Walker and current Senate President Roger Roth, R-Appleton.
- , an emergency physician in Whitefish Bay and member of the American Board of Emergency Medicine, Emergency Medicine Residents Association, and an advisory board member of the Wisconsin Emergency Medical Services for Children.
- , a government and history teacher in Milwaukee. Rangel is the managing editor of Bridge the City and previously worked as a development coordinator for City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps.
- , of Wauwatosa, vice president of the Global Human Resources for Manpower Group. Ranft previously served as the president and member of the Governance Board of the Wauwatosa STEM Elementary School, and is an active member of TEMPO Milwaukee. Ranft donated $150 to Rep. Robyn Vining, D-Wauwatosa, in 2018.
- , a librarian and public services manager for the city of Sheboygan at Mead Public Library. Prentice has been involved with the Wisconsin Library Association, the League of Women Voters, and was the library representative for the city of Sheboygan DIEB initiative working on diversity and inclusion. Prentice donated about $100 to Democratic state Senate candidate Kyle Whelton in 2018.
- , a Hayward resident and dean of students for a K-12 tribal school on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe reservation. Bisonette also is the board chairman for the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College. He signed the Walker recall petition.
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