In order to cut down on political shenanigans, the PA state constitution specifies (Article II, Section 16):
“…Unless absolutely necessary no county, city, incorporated town, borough, township or ward shall be divided in forming either a
senatorial or representative district.”
The day before Thanksgiving, representatives of West Chester, East Bradford, and West Chester University presented the state’s Legislative Reapportionment Commission with a proposal for redistricting districts 156, 158, 160, and 168 that adheres more closely to the constitutional mandate than the plan recently put forward by Harrisburg.
The Harrisburg plan, manifestly designed to split up municipalities that could threaten the majority party’s control, notably relegated 3/7 of the Chester County seat to a district situated mainly in Delaware County.
In the 156th, 158th, 160th, and 168th, the Harrisburg plan (see all the proposed districts courtesy of PoliticsPA) splits 7 municipalities in all: East Bradford, West Chester, Westtown, Upper Chichester, Aston, Newtown, and Upper Providence.
The “citizens’ plan”–while respecting as well or better the further desiderata of contiguity, compactness, and approximately equal populations–splits only 5 municipalities: East Bradford, Thornbury Delco, Aston, Newtown, and Upper Providence.
Therefore–and this will be significant if an appeal goes to the PA Supreme Court–it is evident that the politically-motivated splitting of 7 municipalities is not “absolutely necessary.”
For more background, see the 11/20/11 Daily Local News editorial “West Chester must not be broken into two House districts” and the article “Mayor, others to testify against redistricting plan,” Daily Local, 11/22/11.
“Adherence to the law should not depend on party convenience, partisan benefit, or job security. Instead, fidelity to the law should be the impartial guide and prominent presence self-evident in any approved redistricting plan.”
Here is the detailed plan put forward Wednesday by the local delegation:
Dist. 156 CHESTER County
Part of CHESTER County consisting of the TOWNSHIPS of East Bradford (PART District South, Precinct 01), East Goshen, West Goshen, and the BOROUGH of West Chester. Total Population: 62,282
Dist. 158 CHESTER County
Part of CHESTER COUNTY consisting of the TOWNSHIPS of East Bradford (Part, District North, District South Precinct 02), Highland, East Marlborough, Kennett, London Britain, New Garden, Newlin, Pennsbury, West Bradford, and West Marlborough and the BOROUGHS of Avondale and Kennett Square. Total Population: 62,262
Dist. 160 CHESTER and DELAWARE Counties
Part of CHESTER County consisting of the TOWNSHIPS of Birmingham, Thornbury, and Pocopson and Part of DELAWARE County consisting of the Townships of Bethel, Chadds Ford, Concord, Thornbury (PART, District 01, 02, 04, 05), and Upper Chichester. Total Population: 63,236
Dist. 168 CHESTER and DELAWARE Counties
Part of CHESTER County consisting of the Townships of Westtown and Part of DELAWARE County consisting of the townships of Aston (PART Wards 02, 03, 05), Edgmont, Middletown, Newtown (PART Precinct 01, 02, 04, 05, 06, 08), Thornbury (PART District 3), and Upper Providence (PART, Precincts 01, 04), and the BOROUGHS of Chester Heights and Media. Total Population: 61,571