CCPC supports Issue 1 and fair redistricting

CCPC supports Issue 1 and fair redistricting

The Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus formally endorses Issue 1, on the primary ballot this May 8.

Amid a busy primary season for CCPC, this endorsement has not had tremendous fanfare. The inclusion of Yes on Issue 1 on a sample ballot, recently mailed by some of CCPC's endorsed candidates, seems as good a moment as any to confirm the endorsement and add a few words about CCPC and the Fair Districts campaign.

While not a formal member of the Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition, the Progressive Caucus has grown up alongside it in a real sense. Both officially launched in 2016, and got going in earnest in 2017; CCPC has been an active partner in the campaign for a congressional redistricting reform amendment.

Looking back through e-mails, CCPC invited members to attend a panel discussion about gerrymandering, back in February 2017. By May, CCPC was promoting the speaker training events hosted by League of Women Voters and the Fair Districts coalition.

When the drive for petition signatures launched in June, the CCPC office in Lakewood quickly became a hub for Cuyahoga County efforts. The Progressive Caucus hosted trainings, dispensed and collected petitions, and provided voter lists for door-to-door forays. When the Ohio legislature took notice of the issue, "Help End Gerrymandering" postcards joined the activism arsenal, and members & friends peppered lawmakers with calls for genuine reform.

Remarkably, that succeeded! Late on "Superbowl Sunday," negotiators from both parties in the legislature and good-government groups reached an agreement on congressional redistricting. Approved by the Ohio House and Senate in short order, it's on ballots as Issue 1.

The Progressive Caucus promptly communicated the Fair Districts Coalition's approval to members. (I was honored to lead a February event along with CCPC co-founder Tristan Rader; originally planned to give signature-collecting a boost, its repurposing as a Q&A about Issue 1 offers a reminder of how rapidly the breakthrough arrived.) Formal endorsement followed in due order.

Since the arrival of Yes on Issue 1 yard signs, CCPC has stocked these too.

As a CCPC member, and an active volunteer for the Fair Districts campaign, I'm proud of the partnership. This latest round of Ohio's fight to end gerrymandering has been a model of successful grassroots activism. The long, long history which preceded it is, meanwhile, a lesson that reform efforts need not surrender in the face of one or even multiple failures.

Finally, it's worth noting that for all the merits of Issue 1, it is not a "set it and forget it" machine to guarantee fair redistricting. Instead it's an incentive to lawmakers to do a better job—and an invitation for active citizens to make sure by observing and participating in the process.

When new districts are drawn in 2021, I hope that the Progressive Caucus and many of the friends we made during this campaign will once again let lawmakers know that we're watching and ready to step in if they drop the ball.

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