Redistricting Map Passes; Goes to Mayor

As expected, Council this morning passed the redistricting map proposed by Council members Frank DiCicco and James F. Kenney, passing over a competing plan drawn up by a five-member ad hoc committee that included most of Council leadership.

The vote was 15-2, with the two "no" votes coming from Councilman Brian O'Neill - the biggest loser in the reshuffling of the Councilmanic boundaries - and his fellow Republican, at-large member Jack Kelly. 

Under the new plan, O'Neill, the only Republican representing a district, will have to absorb the entire 56th Ward, a staunchly Democratic area of Northeast Philadelphia. The ad hoc committee map that he preferred would have carved up the ward between O'Neill's Tenth District and the adjacent Sixth District.

Kenney said his map prevailed because "9 out of 10" District Council members supported it -- meaning O'Neill was the lone voice of opposition.

The new map, which won't go into effect until the 2015 election, is much more compact and solves the gerrymandering that currently plagues the Seventh and Fifth Districts. The plan does, however, allow for a large variation in population between the smallest and largest districts.

Redistricting must be accomplished every ten years after the release of census data to account for population shifts. Generally, each of the ten districts should be nearly equal in size, but variations of up to 10 percent have been permitted by the courts.

In Philadelphia, with a population of roughly 1.5 million, a 10 percent variation would be about 15,000 people. The DiCicco-Kenney map has a variation of more than 14,000 people - as did the ad hoc committee's map.

The plan now goes to Mayor Nutter for his consideration.

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