November 16, 2011 —
Efforts by the Republicans in the Pennsylvania Senate and House to redraw the boundaries of election districts have drawn complaint from some Democrats. The new boundaries will affect PA representatives’ districts in Wayne and Pike counties.
Representative Mike Peifer, of the 139th House District, would lose Honesdale and some townships in Wayne County while gaining other townships there. Peifer said that switching Honesdale into the 111th District would require him to find a new district office.
The 111th district, represented by Representative Sandra Major, would lose its section of Wyoming County, but would pick up parts of Wayne County, including Honesdale, and lose other parts.
Senator Lisa Baker of the 20th Senatorial District, while keeping Wayne County, would not represent any part of Monroe County. State Republicans say that Monroe’s increased population warrants it having its own seat, and Monroe officials testified strongly in favor of that at a commission hearing last summer.
The 115th House District, represented by Democrat Edward Staback, would pick up parts of Carbondale and shift significantly into other parts of Upvalley and into North Pocono. That district would lose all of the current Wayne County municipalities while picking up only South Salem Township. Staback, incidentally, has announced he will not seek reelection next year.
The commission voted basically along party lines with Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, a Republican, and House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, a Republican, and the panel chairman, State Supreme Court Senior Judge Stephen McEwen, voting for the plan. Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, a Democrat, and House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, a Democrat, voted against it.
The commission also scheduled a November 18 public hearing in Harrisburg to take comments. After the 30-day comment period is over, the commission will take another 30 days to finalize the plan.
Representative Mike Carroll, a Democrat, was furious, calling the plan “a colossal step backward for Northeastern Pennsylvania” that “clearly illustrates the desire of the Republican Party to draw districts that advance the interests of the Republican Party at the significant expense of citizens.”
Under the plan, Carroll would pick up more territory in Monroe County but would give up Pittston, Duryea and Hughestown and tack on Fairview, a Mountaintop township. Mountaintop is a census-designated place in Luzerne County, PA.