Philadelphia Redistricting Contest Winners

By David Gerber, Contributing Writer

The winners of a web-based redistricting contestheld in Philadelphia were announced Wednesday.The chosen few were, John Attanasio, the overall FixPhillyDistricts winner, Cris Aguilar,  the equipopulation category winner, Frederic Murphy, compactness category winner and Steve Horton,  ward splits category winner.Honorable mentions were awarded to Gary Zielonis, Bonan Li and former Democratic Council candidate Andy Toy for their efforts.

The top scoring plan will receive a $500 cash prize.  The 3 category winners will receive Amazon Kindles.  All winners will receive a chance to present their plans before City Council in an upcoming public hearing.

And this may be a very good idea considering the situation the city is currently facing.

The City Council of Philadelphia has a deadline of this Friday to hash out a plan that they were assigned to draw new political districts. The council appears to be closing in on a plan that does not fix any of the current gerrymandering problems, as reported by the Philadelphia Daily News.

At a public redistricting hearing last night, Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez said Council leaders may introduce a map tomorrow that would do little to correct her 7th district, considered one of the nation’s worst- drawn local districts.

Her district is quite abstract, covering a chunk of northern Philadelphia, twisting around Temple University through parts of Kensington and Northeast Philly. There have been efforts to make her district more compact, but problems have arisen on how to deal with the 56th ward in the northeast which is shared by three districts, including her own.

Quinones-Sanchez threatens to sue if the council refuses to make changes in her district.

No plan for redistricting has been set and it is unclear where negotiations will head. Mayor Nutter, who must sign off on the plan, has stressed that he wants to see a compromise that deals with all of the gerrymandering problems.

Azavea

On August 5th, a geospatial analysis (GIS) software development company, Azavea, announced the launch of FixPhillyDistricts.com, the first online public redistricting competition ever held in Philadelphia.

The contest, which was the result of efforts led by various media hubs in the region, such as,  NewsWorks, the Philadelphia Daily News, Philly.com, the Penn Project for Civic Engagement, and Azavea, ended on Sunday, August 28 at 11:59pm ET.

Citizens from all over the country and as far away as North Carolina created over 1,200 plans.  72 legally valid plans were submitted to online leaderboards while 31 plans were submitted for judging.

The winners also submitted narratives explaining the actions they took in their redistricting designs.

John Attanasio, the overall winner, explains, “While focusing on minimizing ward splits, I also sought to avoid splitting racial and ethnic communities.   My plan thus has one district with a majority Hispanic voting age population.  It also has four districts with a majority Black voting age population.”

Created on multiple motives, the main goals of the contest were to enable the public to learn about the redistricting process, encourage civic engagement in the redistricting effort by providing tools for the public to draw their own valid council district plans and demonstrate that a non-partisan and open public process based upon objective criteria can produce fair, legal council districts in Philadelphia.

3 Responses

  1. Corbett has to authorize the AG to step in and put the winning entry into being. Philly is a genuinely bipartisan town with districts gerrymandered to create a one-party result. This one-party rule is toxic for the city’s economic prospects, and toxic to the PA state budget.

    CORBETT HELP US!!

  2. The state needs to get involved in this. A properly drawn district map like the winning entry above means a Philly that is going to finally be self-sufficient, not begging H-burg for handouts. Philly has neighborhoods that work, and the winning map finally unites them into one political entity, since they are already neighborhoods. Instead of tying opposite neighborhoods together to fight, the sensible map will let real politics, with bipartisan results, occur in Philly.

  3. You mean we could actually have council districts that make sense and respect communities of interest?

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