My Experiences With Redistricting

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redistricting
The snake on the lake

My Experiences With Redistricting With Fair Districts

I sent out several emails regarding the Ohio redistricting process this year. I have to admit some of my emails became accusatory, admonishing those who did not acknowledge or offer to participate in any fashion. I recently received a reply to my email of 9/4 that stated: "Call me cynical, but I knew the Republicans in power have no respect for the law and would ignore the Ohio Constitution. Our strategy should have been to gear up to fight them in the courts – not cajole them into doing what they are incapable of doing. They will not listen to reason – all they care about is preserving their power." Although I can agree with some of the sentiments expressed, I ultimately viewed it as an insult and replied "I prefer to call you lazy," and informed him that Fair Districts, a coalition of Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, already had an experienced legal team.

It occurred to me that this point-of-view may have been shared by those who routinely ignored my pleas to become involved. If this is how you view politics in Ohio, then why bother at all. The Republicans act in a similar way across the board. It doesn't take a soothsayer to make predictions about political outcomes in Ohio. I could make a prediction right now about any Democrat running for office in NW Ohio. I still have enough hope that I am not going to tell our candidates to give up because the result is a foregone conclusion.

Nationwide, the Republicans are a minority party and I suspect if we had universal voting they would be a minority party in Ohio as well. As a minority party they cannot win fair elections in the numbers they have in Ohio and elsewhere. To remain in power, they must cheat, It is indifference that is killing us. It is easy to throw up your hands and say, "There is nothing I can do!" I cannot afford to donate to every Democrat who asks. I had to unsubscribe to a lot of Democrat email because, whether it be a survey or an invitation to an event, there was always an urgent plea for money. Because I don't have the money to donate to everyone who asks, I try to help in other ways. I offer my time and experience instead of financial assistance.

Part of the reason I became so upset with the lack of response to many of my requests and disgusted with the reply to my email, was because I had spent so much time on the cause of the decadal process of assigning districts for legislative representation. Since 70% of Ohio voters supported an end to partisan gerrymandering in 2015 and 2018, I believed fair representation was the most important issue in Ohio this year. The financial problems of the Ohio Democratic Party were ominous and discouraging, but we still had a chance to do something to change political business as usual in the state.

I registered for Fair District's Speaker's Bureau in January 2021 but really didn't get actively involved until early March. I attended the seminars and took the Speaker's training. My first presentation was on April 13 and six brave souls attended. I hadn't rehearsed my presentation so my first was also my worst. It was also the only one that anyone attend. I invited the Democratic county chair in every county in NW Ohio and even included four Republican chairs. I only received one response asking why it wasn't on the Fair Districts list. The answer was because I couldn't get anyone other than Nancy Stephani to request a presentation. Ever hopeful, I scheduled the event anyway and sent out invitations. It only took about 15 minutes after the scheduled start for me to realize that nobody would show. I was both despondent, angry, and ready to give up on NW Ohio—upon further consideration, I thought it would be better if Ohio had not only given the Toledo Strip but also everything east of Sandusky and north of Lima to Michigan, and let the Wisconsin Territory have the Upper Peninsula after the Toledo War.

I also attended some webinars by All On The Line but decided to focus on Fair Districts. I went to monthly, then weekly, volunteer updates and attended webinars. I order yard signs and postcards and traveled to pick them up. I sent emails and letters to Mike DeWine encouraging him to seat the commission early. I always received a response that the governor was going to abide by the Ohio Constitution, in other words, just the minimum effort required. I sent written testimony to the commission after during their minimally required public hearings. I kept up my efforts until the end and beyond. Fair Districts have not given up and neither have I.

Included in my reply to the September 5th email, was the admonishment that we don't need more cynics. We have all of the psychics, soothsayers, cynics, seers, and prognosticators we need. What we need now are activists. We need individuals who will take on the improbable tasks, who will let the 'I told you so's slide, and will stand and fight. At this point that is all we have as Democrats in Ohio, particularly northwest Ohio.

I am also in the process of apologizing to my email sender. He or she is really a nice person and I regret the harshness of my reply.


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Bruce Workman

Bruce Workman

Bruce is a retired rubber chemist. He is the former publisher, editor and head writer for the county Democratic Party newsletter.

He is currenty a freelance writer, and a political activist. Bruce likes to read, research, write, design this website, and fish.

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