Letter to the editor

Midcoast/Knox County state legislators let down residents and taxpayers of Owls Head

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 2:00pm
In the interest of political expediency, our Midcoast/Knox County state legislators have let down the residents and taxpayers of Owls Head by voting in favor of splitting our town into two separate house Legislative districts. 
During the recent reapportionment effort to right-size Maine's two congressional districts based on the 2020 census, our state legislative and county districts are also impacted. For Owls Head, the result is negative.  
Every 10 years, following that decade's census, a bipartisan reapportionment commission consisting of seasoned current and former state senators and representatives, all appointed by state party leadership, are tasked with the responsibility to develop maps which are intended to equalize the number of voters in each district.
The 14 commission members receive services and advice in the process from a couple of deeply entrenched party operatives. This year, the commission was chaired by a retired Maine Supreme Court judge.
Suffice it to say that a big part of the process includes the measure of Democrats and Republicans in each municipality identified from recent elections and voter registrations. The commission partisans then negotiate with their opposites to redraw the boundaries to try to favor their respective advantage. 
The unflattering term for this process is gerrymandering. 
Once the commission has fulfilled their mission, the issue goes before the full house and senate. In order for the proposed reapportionment to go into effect, the two legislative bodies must accept the maps with a two-thirds majority. If the legislature does not accept the new maps, the matter would go to court for settlement. 
In my many written communications to our elected Knox County legislators over several days preceding the vote in Augusta on Wednesday the 29th of September, I tried to persuade them to stand in opposition to the proposed maps that would result in Owls Head becoming the only municipality in Knox County to be split in two.
Our sitting state senator offered a perfunctory amendment from the floor to keep Owls Head whole. His effort failed. When it did, he, along with his colleagues in the entire Knox County delegation of the house, fell into line and voted in favor of dividing the town into a pair of unequal parts. 
For the next ten years the outcome of the vote by our state legislators to divide Owls Head will cause voter confusion and discontent, extra work for town staff and elections volunteers, and unnecessary expenses for the town.
Gordon Page, Sr., lives in Owls Head