Mike achieves something rare – winning two statewide honoree in the same competition round -with this well-executed state Senate map. His approach of stressing balance among his top goals for a map produced impressive results once again here.
I entered this competition because of my strong opposition to gerrymandering. Until 2018, I was in the 7th Congressional District, one of the most gerrymandered congressional districts in the country. As a egistered Democrat, I felt that my vote had been gerrymandered out of relevance.
When I heard about this competition, I knew it would give me an opportunity to do more than just complain about gerrymandering: I could get some hands-on experience with redistricting. The process would help me understand the challenges of drawing a fair congressional map. I felt that I couldn’t complain if I didn’t take an opportunity to try it myself.
My goal was to create a good all-around map, one that wasn’t necessarily the best in any one criteria but was good in most and could be an example of a fair map. After completing the map for the U.S. House redistricting competition, I wanted to try a more challenging map, and the PA Senate redistricting map is certainly that.
My criteria and aims are the same for my PA Senate map: equal population and compact districts with no concern for political affiliation. I set out to create maps that are the complete opposite of gerrymanders, maps that neither side of the political spectrum would consider unfair.
I wanted the districts to represent a community and not split towns and small cities unnecessarily. This was very challenging in the PA Senate map.
I did not focus on creating majority-minority districts because that would have been difficult to balance with compactness. Nevertheless, my PA Senate map has four majority-minority districts. It also has 15 competitive districts.
I did speak with numerous people about my map-drawing, including about 15 relatives, friends, and my PA State Rep, Tim Briggs. All were interested in the process. All of my friends and relatives had heard about gerrymandering and redistricting, but many of them were unsure of details, such as when the redistricting would be done and how it was affected by the Census. Everyone had opinions and asked a lot of questions. Additionally, it was a fun opportunity to engage with many people in a non-partisan way, especially during these difficult times.