Draw the Lines reveals, hails its statewide winners at Capitol event

DTL Staff

The scene in the PA. State Capitol rotunda during Draw the Lines PA's awards event for citizen mappers in September. | Image Credit: Photo by Rutan Productions

Amid applause and cheers, Draw the Lines PA revealed its latest list of statewide champion citizen mappers this week in an event that filled the Main Rotunda of the state Capitol.

Statewide higher education champion Logan Ford of Mercyhurst University is congratulated by David Thornburgh. | Image Credit: Photo by Rutan Productions

A college senior and a college instructor from Erie joined a high-schooler from State College as the standout citizen mappers honored. 

Logan Ford, a student at Mercyhurst University, was honored for drawing the best congressional map of Pennsylvania in the higher education division of the initiative’s spring mapping competition.  That earned him a $5,000 prize, on top of the $500 he’d already won last spring as the best college mapper in the West.

Meanwhile, Nathaniel Ropski, a political science instructor at Gannon University, a few miles away from Mercyhurst in Erie, was honored as the state’s top adult mapper, also receiving $5,000.  Ropski was on the road on university business, so he got the happy news via a phone call from the Capitol.

Not to be outdone, Kyle Hynes, a student at State College High School, was named the top youth mapper in the state, for the second year in a row. He also won $5,000.

More than 70 citizen mappers were honored overall, as DTL handed out $38,000 in regional and state prizes to the Pennsylvanians who drew the 17-district congressional maps deemed the best among the 341 entered in DTL’s spring competition.

The honorees range in age from young teens to senior citizens.  Overall, maps entered in the spring contest came from 29 counties, 21 high schools and 10 colleges.  Some maps were done by individuals, some by teams of as many as seven people.

Jason Burke of Abington Heights High School accepts his award as DTL's high school educator of the year. | Image Credit: Photo by Rutan Productions

At the event, DTL also honored two educators, Jason Burke of Abington Heights High School just outside of Scranton and Joseph Morris of Mercyhurst University in Erie, for leading their students through exemplary engagement with Draw the Lines.

Burke said, holding the plaque he received, that it will hang in his classroom as a constant reminder to his students of the vital role they can and should play in their democracy.

Morris introduced Logan Ford to Draw the Lines, and two of Burke’ students, Isabel Holland and Julia Poulson-Houser, took a runner-up spot behind Hynes, worth $2,500.  Another repeat honoree, Jack Rosenthal of Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh, tied the two young women for second in the youth category.  

Jack Rosenthal (center at left), the statewide youth runner-up, chats with his father at the lunch reception after the awards ceremony. | Image Credit: Photo by Rutan Productions

https://drawthelinespa.org/draw-a-mapMatt Granito, a math major at Gettysburg College, took second to Ford, and Adam Dusen, an organic farmer from New Hope, Bucks County, took second to Ropski, each receiving $2,500.

One prize remains to be decided.  A $1,500 People’s Choice Award was to have been decided by online voting, as people chose their favorite among the seven maps drawn by the statewide honorees who were saluted at the event.   But when the balloting ended with a fully of late ballots at midnight Tuesday, the Abington Heights pair had nearly caught up with Logan Ford, who’d been leading the tally for weeks.   DTL is doing a recount to make sure all counted ballots are valid ones.  An announcement of the winner (or a tie requiring a runoff) will be made by the end of the week.

 (A full list of honorees is available at drawthelinespa.org/about-us/spring-2019-winners-list. )

Draw the Lines PA is a project of the Committee of Seventy.  Seventy’s CEO, David Thornburgh, served as chair of a state redistricting reform commission that just released its report, which detailed how the state could involve voters more effectively in drawing election maps.

“This is a crucial moment in the quest to create a fairer, more voter-oriented way of drawing our state’s congressional and legislative maps,” Thornburgh, who emceed the event along with DTl chief of staff Justin Villere, said. “These outstanding citizen mappers provide the most vivid and timely evidence possible that the people of Pennsylvania are ready, willing and able to lead the kind of citizens commission our report envisions.”

The maps were drawn on DistrictBuilder, a free, digital mapping tool developed for Draw the Lines by Azavea Inc. of Philadelphia.

 Maps were evaluated by members of the project’s three regional steering committees, including former Gov. Mark Schweiker, former Superior Court Judge Maureen Lally-Green, former state Sen. Michael Brubaker and former U.S. Attorney Frederick Thieman.

The Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation sponsored all the awards in the competition’s East/Youth Division.

Villere announced the launch of DTL's third mapping competition, which as before will invite people to draw congressional maps on DistrictBuilder but also adds a new twist: a separate contest for drawing state legislative maps on the DRA 2020 app.

For more details, look here. The contest deadline is Dec. 12


Kyle Hynes of State College High School is congratulated by David Thornburg on his second straight selection of youth mapper of the year. | Image Credit: Photo by Rutan Productions