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The Journal Gazette

  • Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette Sally Swihart

Sunday, December 24, 2017 1:00 am

Golden Pen: November

About the author

Sally Swihart of Fort Wayne, whose letter appeared Nov. 5, has been selected last month's Golden Pen Award winner. In the judgment of the editors, she had the most effective letter in November.

Swihart, 68, is a retired elementary school guidance counselor in the East Allen and Northwest Allen districts. She and her husband Thomas are the parents of four and have seven grandchildren. In her retirement, she enjoys reading, traveling and hiking, which she will resume once her recently broken foot heals.

A resident of the Foster Park area, Swihart is also “really, really, really interested in government and politics.” “I really do feel passionate about the values on which America was founded,” she said, describing herself as a “run-of-the-mill Protestant Christian.” “I think we're getting way, way off course” from those values, she adds. Speaking specifically of her District 50 and the neighboring District 80, Swihart says she became troubled by the “audacity” of boundaries drawn during redistricting. “It made me angry and it made me angry at myself” for not noticing sooner how her street had been segmented away from those of her neighbors, she said.

Swihart received a gold-plated inscribed pen for her efforts. The Golden Pen Award was established to express our appreciation for the contributions our letter writers make to the editorial page.

Gerrymandered seek fair representation

I am gerrymandered. I live in a neighborhood two miles from downtown Fort Wayne, yet my state representative lives in Huntington and runs a business there. He represents District 50, which comprises all of Huntington County, the western part of Wells County and some of southwest Fort Wayne. It is not surprising I have never seen him in my neighborhood since it is a minuscule slice of his district, only about three blocks wide and as many long. My neighbors two blocks to the north and three blocks to the south are part of District 80 and represented by a legislator who actually lives in Fort Wayne.

When I moved into my neighborhood in the '80s, my street was part of District 80, and then, suddenly, it was not. It is difficult to see how someone from a midsize city in a predominantly rural county can adequately and fairly advocate for a very small percentage of his constituency that is most decidedly urban. Further, it is ludicrous to believe that when district boundaries were redrawn that the only way equity in population numbers could be achieved was to dig out chunks of neighborhoods in Fort Wayne and align them with those in Huntington County.

Regardless of party affiliation, residents of this part of my neighborhood are denied the opportunity to have our interests fairly represented in the Statehouse. This needs to be changed.