Public Redistricting Competition released to critical acclaim from Philly's News Media


With just over a month left in Philadelphia City Council's decennial redistricting process, on August 3rd Azavea announced a public redistricting competition to be conducted at, where any Philadelphia resident or group will be able to use Azavea's DistrictBuilder software to draw their own councilmanic districts. The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News,, WHYY's, Channel 6abc,, and weighed in on the redistricting issue extensively and covered the innovative role the website and contest will play in the process.


Vernon Odom and the 6abc Action News team visited Azavea's headquarters on 12th street to interview Abby Fretz, who gave a demo of the DistrictBuilder software. Watch the newscast here:


NewsWorks' Chris Satullo detailed the $1,000 in prizes on offer, courtesy of WHYY, and other competition specifics in his Centre Square blog posting, "Your chance to fix Philly's screwy election map".

"It's Our Money" podcasters Doron Taussig and Juliana Reyes tackled the developments in their own humorous style on their weekly podcast, "Keeping 'the public' in public engagement".

NewsWorks Tonight radio host Dave Heller interviewed Azavea's President Robert Cheetham about Cheetham's visions for the contest and how users will go about using the site to create their own redistricting plans: NewsWorks Tonight

After Azavea's, WHYY's, and UPenn's Project for Civic Engagement's joint FixPhillyDistricts unveiling and Civic Engagement meeting at WHYY's Hamilton Public Media Commons on Independence Mall on August 8th, Chris Satullo wrote up his "stunned" and "flabbergasted" reaction to the well-attended meeting, here, "Voters flock to chance to fix Philly's election map."


Marty Moss-Coane's Radio Times newsmagazine took the FixPhillyDistricts competition as an opportunity to cover the redistricting process in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. Moss-Coane invited Cheetham on the show to discuss the contest.

Philadelphia Inquirer

The Inquirer's Bob Warner interviewed Cheetham about the website, and reported on Council's redistricting efforts up to this point in his article on Monday, "Website will let public propose new Philadelphia Council districts"

The contest was also mentioned in the Inquirer Editorial Board's "Say What?" blog, "Council again shows disdain for public input", the same text appearing in the print paper's opinion section under the headline "Public deserves to be heard".


Representing Philadelphia's diverse Spanish-speaking community, the Spanish-language weekly paper Al Día posted their own translated version of Warner's Inquirer article, " permite participación ciudadana en redistribución".


Daily News reporter Catherine Lucey covered the major demographic shifts that any redistricting plan will have to take into account in her politics article, "Council courts public on districts".

The News' "Philly Clout" blog also mentioned the site and Azavea and WHYY's plans to host a public meeting next Monday, August 8 in its post, "Council to hold public hearing on redistricting".


Christopher Wink at Technically Philly posted on the competition here.


Nick Judd wrote a post for PDF's techPresident blog examining how Cheetham hopes the competition will encourage more public engagement, with a shorter summary post here.


PoliticsPA posted about the contest here.


Reporter Mary Silver for the multilingual English and Chinese newspaper The Epoch Times interviewed the Public Mapping Project's Micah Altman, an Azavea partner, about DistrictBuilder and the FixPhillyDistricts contest.


Philadelphia Magazine's Patrick Kerkstra called Azavea "a critical asset for reforming local government" in his blog post for PMag's "The Philly Post."

Brett Mandel explained in his post, "Drawing New Council Lines is an Excercise in Disrespect," that Azavea's DistrictBuilder may make it easy to dive in, but it does not take away the careful nuances required to draw a good city council district map. "I have learned how to make the computer software very happy...But, no matter how hard I try, I finish each map with a measure of map drawing begins with the best of intentions, but ends with me having to disrespect something."