Friday, December 19, 2014

Some of Lower Merion will go to 166th district in redistricting plans

Lower Merion Township Wards 8 and 14 will go to Rep. Greg Vitali's 166th district if the Legislative Reapportionment Commission's current preliminary plans pass.

Some of Lower Merion will go to 166th district in redistricting plans

Rep. Vitali´s alternative redistricting plan, proposed at the Nov. 23rd public hearing in Harrisburg, keeps Haverford Township and Upper Darby together in their respective legislative districts.
Rep. Vitali's alternative redistricting plan, proposed at the Nov. 23rd public hearing in Harrisburg, keeps Haverford Township and Upper Darby together in their respective legislative districts. (courtesy Rep. Vitali's office)

Neighbors Main Line has reported on Haverford Township's concerns over the Legislative Reapportionment Commission's preliminary redistricting plan, which could shift Wards 1 and 9 from representation by State Rep. Greg Vitali (D), to State Rep. Nicholas Micozzie's (R) 163rd district.

As a Sunday, Dec. 4 Main Line Times article points out, Haverford is not the only township in the Main Line with wards facing this kind of fragmentation. Under the preliminary plan, Lower Merion Township's Wards 8 and 14 could go to Vitali's 166th district.

The sectioning off of these Penn Wynne wards from the 149th district, represented by State Rep. Tim Briggs (D), compelled Lower Merion Township Board of Commissioners President Liz Rogan to testify at the Nov. 23 hearing in Harrisburg, the second public hearing over redistricting.

"Over the last two decades, the legislative boundaries created in our Commonwealth have effectively eliminated competition and brought us to the point where re-election rates now exceed 98 percent," Rogan said at the hearing. "My concern and point is, that voters will certainly become more cynical and less interested in government and politics when the outcome of legislative elections continues to be effectively predetermined."

Main Line Times reported that Rogan also had concerns that changing a legislative district to include parts of many different municipalities would impact representatives' availability and effectiveness of to address the issues and concerns relative to each community.

In an interview with Neighbors, Vitali admitted he had no issue with representing the southeastern part of Lower Township, because he is fond of and familiar with the area, which he said was around the corner from his home in the Penfield part of Havertown.

Nevertheless, Vital told Neighbors he agreed with and understood Rogan's concerns, since he made similar arguments against the redistricting proposal for Haverford Township.

"It's better for individual citizens to know who their correct legislator is...municipalities shouldn't be split unless absolutely necessary," Vitali said.

Vitali added that from a legislative perspective, it's easier to look at a district and focus on the needs of municipalities as a whole, another reason he cited against dividing townships in the redistricting process.

Vitali, who introduced an alternative plan at the Nov. 23 meeting, said there will likely be a Dec. 12 hearing, which will include adjustments to the redistricting plan based on the two public hearings. He said there most likely wouldn't be a public comment opportunity at this hearing.

Vitali said the next step would be an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court if the commission's adjusted plan does not address his concerns about Haverford Township.

Attempts to contact Rogan for comment were unsuccessful.

Click here for more information on redistricting in Pennsylvania.

About this blog
Josh Fernandez is a 2011 graduate of Temple University where he studied journalism and gender studies. He was a writer and editor for The Temple News, and has interned at Philadelphia City Paper and the Philadelphia Daily News. Josh lived in Aston, Pa. in Delaware County before moving to University City in Philadelphia.

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