FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Online petition seeks to keep Lower Merion unchanged in state reapportionment
HARRISBURG, April 26 – State House lawmakers representing Lower Merion Township are providing residents the opportunity to have their voices heard in the state reapportionment process through a petition on their websites.
Reps. Tim Briggs, www.pahouse.com/Briggs; Pam DeLissio, www.pahouse.com/DeLissio; and Mike Gerber, www.pahouse.com/Gerber all represent parts of Lower Merion Township and are against the proposal to split the township among four legislative districts.
The Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission recently gave preliminary approval to a new state reapportionment map that still splits Lower Merion Township among four legislative districts. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in January invalidated an earlier map drawn by the commission, saying the approach was “contrary to law.” That plan also split Lower Merion among four House districts.
Briggs said Lower Merion went from being represented by two state representatives in 1991 to three in 2001. He said township residents are being sacrificed by Republican leaders, who are trying to draw lines in attempt to maintain their hold on the majority for the next 10 years or more.
"Changes are being made to the 149th District that bare no benefit to the current district or solve no problems for Lower Merion Township,” Briggs said. “The split is nothing more than the result of political influence in order to gain stronger, safer Republican seats in neighboring Delaware County. We are offering Lower Merion residents the opportunity to have their voices heard in this process by signing the petition to have no further splits in this community.”
Gerber added that the preliminary plan may not follow constitutional and judicial guidelines set forth for the redistricting process.
“The Constitution, and Supreme Court decisions interpreting it, call for keeping communities together by reducing the number of splits in any given municipality,” Gerber said. “This map clearly flies in the face of Constitutional law and is nothing more than an attempt by those in power who control the mapping process to maintain their power. Unfortunately, Representatives Briggs, DeLissio, and I had no other choice but to oppose this gerrymandered map because, among other reasons, it splits Lower Merion into four House districts.”
The petition on the lawmakers’ websites states: “We the undersigned oppose the Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission’s proposed plan to divide Lower Merion Township among four State House Districts. Dividing our community into four districts could make it more difficult for residents and representatives alike to focus on the problems and concerns specific to Lower Merion.”
Residents who sign the petition will have their names displayed on a separate page. The electronic signatures will be submitted to the commission before the public comment period ends May 14.
At all of DeLissio’s 12 Town Hall meetings held in the last 17 months, she has advocated for a nonpartisan redistricting process.
“I have advised my constituents that the only solution is a nonpartisan process,” DeLissio said. “The preliminary redistricting plan that was recently approved is a direct outcome of a partisan process that is not in the best interests of the citizens.”
Briggs agreed, saying the proposed plan demonstrates a clear need to reform the existing congressional redistricting and state reapportionment process.
"It has become a completely political process," Briggs said. "It should be taken out of the hands of those who are directly affected by the outcome and placed in the hands of an independent commission, which would be tasked with drawing maps that make sense and ensure proper representation for all Pennsylvania residents.
"I will continue to fight to maintain as limited a change as possible for the 149th Legislative District and for our communities," he said.
Interested residents can track the state reapportionment process by visiting www.redistricting.state.pa.us.