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New Garden says 'No' to gerrymandering

08/22/2017 01:47PM ● Published by Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

The New Garden Township Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 at their Aug. 21 meeting to pass the township's Resolution No. 2017, which lends the township's support to  impartial, fair and transparent redistricting reform, and calls for and end to gerrymandering across Pennsylvania, which has resulted in congressional redistricting of districts to favor one political party.
Those voting in favor the resolution were board chairman Pat Little, and supervisors Stephen Allaband, Randy Geouque and Mike Loftus. Supervisor Richard Ayotte was not present at the meeting.
By signing the resolution, New Garden tosses its support to legislative efforts to secure expeditious action to make a constitutional amendment that would, among other reforms, assign the decennial task of both legislative and congressional redistricting to an independent citizens redistricting commission.
The resolution says, in part, that the township encourages "all those elected officials in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who represent the citizens of the Township of New Garden to publicly announce their support of and commitment to work towards passage of such legislative efforts."
Copies of the resolution will be sent to Gov. Tom Wolf, Lieutenant, Gov. Mike Stack, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, Sen. Andrew Dinniman, Pennsylvania Rep. Eric Roe, and Chester County Commissioners Kathi Cozzone, Terence Farrell and Michelle Kichline.
The resolution also said, "the creation of a truly independent citizens redistricting commission devoid of political motivation or partisanship will help to ensure a fair and accurate legislative and congressional redistricting process that respects political subdivisions, will prohibit districts from being drawn to favor or discriminate against a political party or candidate, will promote transparency, the use of impartial and sound methodology when setting district boundaries, and allow for public input, and will fully comply with the constitutional requirement that 'no county, city, incorporated town, borough, township or ward' be divided 'unless absolutely necessary.'”
With the resolution now on the books, New Garden becomes the 82nd municipality in Pennsylvania -- and the latest municipality in Chester County -- to to pass legislation in support of fair districting practices. They join the townships of East Whiteland, East Marlborough, East Pikeland, Kennett, London Britain, Pocopson, West Goshen, West Marlborough and West Nottingham, and the boroughs of Downingtown, Kennett Square, Malvern, Phoenixville, West Chester and West Grove.
Recent legislation has been introduced in the current legislative session -- Senate Bill 22 and House Bill 722 -- that calls for an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution to reform the decennial legislative and congressional redistricting process. It's part of a fight that's going on at the national and local levels, said David Unger of the Chester County Chapter of FairDistricts Pa.
"Right now, we're really fighting the court of public opinion," Unger said. "Nationally, they are looking at gerrymandering, in terms of the Supreme Court ruling on its this year, who will be looking at partisan advantage gerrymandering, when before it was just racial gerrymandering. Locally, we just need to continue putting pressure on our local representatives, in terms of making them do the right thing. They won't do it on their own, as they've demonstrated year in and year out."
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email rgaw@chestercounty.com.


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