Jackson Romero (Fox Chapel H.S., Allegheny County) - 2nd Place, West Youth

About Jackson: I'm a Pittsburgh native who was active in Debate, Model UN, and Science fair in high school. I will be studying Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University in the fall.

Judges' Statement

Jackson had an all-around solid map. He was able to connect with others to get input on his map, and he did a nice job discussing how he took action on their feedback. He supplied sound reasoning on why mappers would want to limit county splits, as it can help maintain cohesiveness within hierarchical levels of government.

Personal Statement

Redistricting, and more specifically partisan gerrymandering, is an issue that affects each Pennsylvanian equally. The drawing of lines to increase partisan majorities and split or pack minority communities was an issue so great our State Supreme Court had to throw out our old Congressional map. When drawing my map, I wanted to emphasize two things that I thought were most important to ensuring fair representation. The first was to minimize county splits and have districts generally follow geographic boundaries. The second was to ensure all districts were compact and couldn’t be described as “Goofy kicking Donald Duck.” I thought that minimizing county splits was important as it would one, make it easier for people to know which congressional district they belonged to just based on their county, and two, enable more cohesion between multiple levels of government as the same places would generally be represented by officials from the same party. For compactness, I know from personal experience that seeing oddly-shaped districts can undermine trust that a map was drawn fairly, and therefore wanted to ensure my districts had reasonable shapes. In the end, my goal was to have only one three-way county split in Philadelphia because the population of the county necessitated it and to have it so that all districts were above 30% compactness.

In order to come up with these specific goals, I talked to voters in my life such as my parents, grandparents, and AP Government teacher. They all expressed some amount of confusion in figuring out their congressional district and general distaste for oddly-shaped districts, which directly influenced the goals I chose for my map. In short, I wanted the map I created to be one that was most appealing to the general public due to its simplicity. I believe I achieved my goal, and my teacher wrote that my map “seems fair and balanced.” Overall, the greatest challenge by far was getting only one three-way county split while still maintaining compactness. However, I did achieve my goal and all counties are only split a maximum of two times (except Philadelphia), all districts have a minimum 30% compactness, and all districts are within +/-1000 of the perfect population.