Advisers to Governor Wolf hear from Central Pa. residents about drawing the next Congressional district map

For example, the current Congressional District map in Pennsylvania puts the State College Borough in the 12th District and nearby Bellefonte in 15th.

  • Min Xian/WPSU

(State College) – Central Pennsylvania residents said they want to see communities kept intact when it comes to congressional redistricting during a listening session with Governor Tom Wolf’s Redistricting Advisory Council Monday.

The current Congressional District map in Pennsylvania puts the State College Borough in the 12th District and nearby Bellefonte in 15th. The Park Forest neighborhood in Patton Township is divided between the two districts.

Residents who testified during the session held at the HUB Robeson Center on Penn State’s University Park campus, including Ron Williams from Pennsylvania Furnace, said that is a good example of a local community which should not be divided between Congressional Districts.

“These municipalities and their surrounding communities are intricately interwoven with the Pennsylvania State University through common day-to-day living experiences and other shared priorities,” Williams said.

He told Penn State professors Lee Ann Banaszak and Chris Fowler that fair representation of communities on the congressional map requires understanding on the local level.

Banaszak and Fowler are among six experts on the redistricting advisory council who will develop principles to guide Governor Wolf in reviewing the Congressional map the general assembly will draw. They exchanged questions with commenters during the listening session Monday.

Pennsylvania is expected to lose one seat in the new map, which will be in place by the primary election next May.

Fair Districts PA Centre County Coordinator Debbie Trudeau acknowledged the improvement the current Congressional District map drawn by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2018 made compared to the previous one, which was considered a gerrymandered map.

“However it was a severe blow to State College when our community was split,” Trudeau said. “Because small towns in Pennsylvania aren’t allowed to incorporate their expanding boundaries, State College appears on a map as just a tiny borough. In fact our community is considered an urban area and has grown tremendously over the years.”

“I urge you, the Redistricting Advisory Council, to be good watchdogs on behalf of Governor Wolf and the voters. The 2021 Congressional Map must keep whole communities together unless they merit multiple representatives,” she said.

The Governor’s Redistricting Advisory Council will hold listening sessions in Mansfield on November 3 and in Scranton on November 4. A virtual listening session has been scheduled for November 8.

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