The recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision should teach us one thing about the reapportionment process: There is too much party control. Redistricting is supposed to be based on census data and population changes to help balance out uneven districts. Instead, it has become a political tool for the majority party to gain an upper hand over its opposition. Both parties are to blame for this mess. Democrats have done it in the past, and this year it’s the Republicans using reapportionment to their advantage. They sought to manipulate districts in order to strengthen Republicans’ re-election bids and challenge vulnerable Democrats. To do this, many Democratic municipalities got reapportioned out of these districts and placed into one heavily Democratic territory where Republicans already have conceded victory. This political chess match results in partisan districts, partisan politicians and partisan stalemate.
We see this in Harrisburg all the time: legislators unwilling to meet in the middle and compromise for the common good, because it’s not in their self-interests. With these heavy red and blue districts, the legislator representing this area has to stay partisan and hold the line for the “best interest of their constituents.” Politicians seemingly aren’t looking for compromise, they are looking toward their re-elections, and they won’t get re-elected if they don’t represent their district properly. It stifles debate and leads to bad governance.
We need to reform this system. As a Republican candidate, I would like to praise the leadership of Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Bethlehem, and parts of Senate Bill 650, co-sponsored by Sen. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, and Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township. The bill includes five considerations by which a district will be created: ideal population, municipal boundaries, contiguous territory, compactness and communities of interest. It also would prohibit reapportionment based on the address of incumbent legislators, previous election results and, most important, party affiliation. Lastly, the bill calls for a full-time Legislative Reapportionment Bureau in hopes of fixing the partisan nature of this issue.