Support Warrant Article 34 for Fair Nonpartisan Redistricting
To the editor:
After the U.S. Census every 10 years, states reapportion the population into voting districts for the NH House and Senate, the Executive Council, County Commission and for the U.S. House. When redistricting is fair, maps are drawn to consider how many in the town, what towns are in what school districts, whether towns have a shared economic source like a mill, or a shared geographic area. And they must be contiguous.
When redistricting is NOT fair, it becomes gerrymandering, a manipulation of those maps for partisan gain. Gerrymandering tries to give an advantage to the party in power by “packing” towns which lean one way together, such as New Hampshire’s Executive Council District 2, which snakes through blue-leaning towns from rural Hinsdale to urban Portsmouth, leaving the adjoining districts redder.
That district and several Senate and House districts were gerrymandered in 2011. As usual, a bipartisan Special Committee was to draw the maps, but it was really created for show. The reality was that the maps were drawn by a handful of people, all behind closed doors and using a software program which still has never been publicly scrutinized.
During required public hearings in 2011, there were no maps shown at the meetings. For the NH House maps, it wasn’t until one week prior to the full House vote that most legislators in either party had the opportunity to see the maps -- to analyze the districts for 400 state reps! How much time did the public have to review the House map? 24 hours. The NH
House has embarked on a redistricting process for the next 10 years and has again formed a bipartisan Special Committee. A repeat of what occurred in 2011 should not take place.
The new Special Committee on Redistricting has a clean slate, and an opportunity to do it right. I think we would all agree that a redistricting process that is sufficiently accountable to voters must be open, transparent, allow public engagement and time for the public to provide feedback for the proposed redistricting plan. I believe that an open and transparent redistricting process can help ensure that public servants are elected who actually serve citizens. It is a given that sunlight inspires confidence in redistricting processes and outcomes recognized as fair.
A Warrant Article Resolution for Fair Nonpartisan Redistricting has been approved for a vote at the Amherst May 5 Deliberative Session. Please support the resolution, which has already been passed in 49 NH cities and towns to head off any further gerrymandering. In addition to your support at the Deliberative Session, you can call or write your state representatives, your state senator, and Governor Sununu, and demand that our redistricting process be fair, nonpartisan and transparent. The travesty of 2011 should never be allowed to happen again.
Tracie Adams Seeks Election to Planning Board
To the editor:
As a current alternate on the Amherst Planning Board, I am honored to announce my candidacy for election to a 1-year term as a full voting member. My name is Tracie Adams and I have lived in Amherst with my family since 2014. We fell in love with the rural character, quintessential New England charm, and excellent schools in Amherst. As a military family who lived in many great towns, we immediately recognized that Amherst was a real gem. Both of our children have now graduated from Souhegan High School and are thriving at local colleges. Amherst is truly our home.
I attended planning board meetings for over a year before considering seeking a position on the planning board. My experience working in healthcare for 30 years developed the necessary skills to evaluate and analyze problems and then communicate my findings compassionately but honestly and directly. I was appointed to the planning board as an alternate by the Board of Selectmen.
Over the last year, I have become keenly aware of how planning decisions made today influence the future of our town. Planning Board members are challenged to balance the rights of landowners to develop their property with the laws, ordinances, and vision for Amherst that our citizens have created. As a member of the Master Plan Steering Committee, I recognize how critically important it is to develop a Master Plan that provides a clear vision that will represent our citizens and shape the future of our amazing community.
I would be thankful for the opportunity to continue serving you as a member of the Planning Board. I respectfully ask for your vote.
Stoughton Seeks Seat on Amherst Planning Board
To the editor:
My name is Bill Stoughton, I’m running for a seat on the Amherst Planning Board, and I’d like to introduce myself.
I am retired after a career including service as a naval officer, and work as a nuclear engineer and lawyer. I currently serve as an alternate member of the Amherst Conservation Commission. Last year I was appointed to the Planning Board, where I have worked to protect the Town’s water resources and open space. If I am fortunate enough to receive your support, I will continue this work as we shift to an elected board.
I approach my work on the Planning Board with four objectives:
Be prepared – Applications are often complex with highly technical reports that must be carefully reviewed to identify potential problems for the Town. This is not a job for the unprepared.
Listen – Nobody knows an area as well as those who live in it. It is the Planning Board’s job to listen to, understand, and learn from residents’ concerns.
Know and fairly apply the rules – Developers and residents alike deserve members who understand, and fairly and consistently apply the applicable laws, ordinances, and regulations.
Maintain the rural character of Amherst – This overarching purpose is present throughout our ordinances and Master Plan. Planning Board members must be sure we adhere to this direction from our residents as we review and decide on applications and do our other work.
Serving Amherst is a true privilege and one that I’d like to continue through my work on the Planning Board. I respectfully ask for your vote on June 8, 2021.