Final legislative maps spell changes for local districts
Maps courtesy of Spotlight PA
BEFORE — Pennsylvania House District 45's current composition.
AFTER — Pennsylvania House District 45 will shift south and west, dropping three communities East of the Ohio River and picking up McKees Rocks, Collier and Bridgeville.
By Jamie Wiggan
A final redistricting map cleared by a panel of legislators will spell out several changes to local house and senate districts if it survives possible legal challenges.
Legislative maps are redrawn every 10 years on the back of new census data and regularly end in political stand-offs between Democratic and Republican lawmakers. Two legislators from each party joined with an independent redistricting expert to form the panel, which recommended the map by a 4-1 vote on Feb. 4.
The proposal is expected to slightly favor Democrats compared to the existing districts, and some Republicans have voiced charges of gerrymandering, including dissenting panel member Kerry Benninghoff, the house majority leader from Center County.
Democrats, however, say the map is instead overturning decades of established preference to Republicans.
Pennsylvania’s voters are skewed heavily into urban and rural enclaves, with Democrats clustered around Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and other major cities and Republicans dominant in the north and center of the state.
The process for updating Pennsylvania’s congressional maps is moving separately, and, having faced gridlock among the legislature, is expected to be determined by the state Supreme Court.
The latest proposal would shift House District 45 – occupied by Anita Kulik – primarily south and west, dropping Kilbuck, Ben Avon and Emsworth north of the Ohio River and adding McKees Rocks, Collier, and Bridgeville. Carnegie will also be cut. The district will maintain Stowe, Kennedy, Robinson and Coraopolis.
District 27 – currently held by Dan Deasy – will shift in a similar direction, as it’s pushed south and west by the expansion of District 19 into Pittsburgh’s westernmost neighborhoods. Accordingly, Esplen, Sheraden and several other city wards will be cut, while suburban communities, Rosslyn Farms, Carnegie and Scott Township will be absorbed.
The newly proposed senate map will bring fewer changes to the current districts west of Pittsburgh.
As proposed, District 42 – occupied by Wayne Fontana – will drop Coraopolis while expanding into Pittsburgh’s South Hills. The district will maintain McKees Rocks, Stowe, Kennedy, Crafton, Ingram and the majority of Pittsburgh’s westside neighborhoods.
District 37 – occupied by Devlin Robinson – will add Coraopolis while maintaining Robinson, Moon, Thornburg, Pennsbury Village and other of communities stretching south of Pittsburgh into Washington County.
–Spotlight PA contributed reporting to this article