Reapportionment Fight Continues in Harrisburg

May 8, 2012

The five-man panel that was sent back to the drawing board to create a better redistricting plan for state House and Senate districts in Pennsylvania has concluded its last scheduled public hearing. Local officials and political candidates Monday urged additional changes to the set of tentative maps.

An earlier reapportionment plan was rejected by the state Supreme Court in January, forcing this year's races for state House and Senate to be based on maps drawn a decade ago. Several speakers took aim at specific districts.

Harrisburg area lawyer Corky Goldstein called the plan an absurd gerrymander that divides the state's capital city from communities of common interest. "You have tossed the city to another district which has absolutely no commonality for an urban center like Harrisburg."

"Political goals produce partisan results," said Patty Kim, a Harrisburg City Council member and a Democratic candidate for the House.

Also drawing criticism were plans to move two districts to other regions of the state.

The district currently held by Senator Jane Orie of McCandless would be moved to fast-growing Monroe County along the New Jersey border. Orie has been convicted of corruption and forgery and is required to give up her seat later this month.

The plan also moves a Clearfield County district in the state's rural center to Chester County in suburban Philadelphia. Rep. Bud George, a Democrat who is retiring when his term ends later this year, has represented the Clearfield district for decades.

Clearfield County solicitor Kim Kesner said the maps stink of incumbent privilege.

Members of the redistricting panel from both parties said they hope to agree on a final plan by the end of the month.