Cranberry officials are banding together to voice opposition to a proposed legislative map that would move the 40th District—currently represented by Sen. Jane Orie—to the other side of the state.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” said Supervisor Dick Hadley, who is spearheading the township’s resistance to the tentative plan.
The redistricting process for the General Assembly is taking place based on population shifts recorded in the 2010 census. Under the redistricting plan given preliminary approval April 12 by a majority of the five-member reapportionment committee, Orie’s territory would move to Monroe and Northampton counties on the eastern half of the state to reflect growth near the New Jersey border.
If the plan is given final approval, three senators would split Orie’s former territory, which encompasses parts of Allegheny County—including Pine, Richland and Ross townships—and Butler County, including Cranberry and Adams townships and Zelienople, Harmony, Seven Fields borough.
Convicted in March of using state-paid staff to do political work, Orie is unlikely to remain senator of the district, no matter its location. If she doesn’t resign first, she will lose her seat following her May 21 sentencing.
What Happens to Cranberry?
Sen. Mary Jo White, R-Franklin, would take over Adams, Harmony and Zelienople in the 21st senatorial district, which also would represent parts of Clarion, Forest, Venango and Warren counties under the proposed plan.
Pine, Richland, Ross and McCandless townships would be folded into the 37th district currently represented by Sen. John Pippy, R-Moon, who is not seeking re-election in 2012. Former Mt. Lebanon Commissioner D. Raja won the GOP nomination in Tuesday’s primary election. No Democrat has entered the race for the seat, but Pleasant Hills Democrat Greg Parks has indicated that he will run as a write-in candidate in the fall general election.
“It’s Just Not Logical”
Hadley said he found it unfair that Cranberry and Seven Fields would be separated from the rest of Butler County, particularly when much of the county’s growth—in business and population—is in that area.
“Why would it make sense to carve out a critical piece of Butler County and put it over into Beaver and Lawrence counties?” he asked.
With the vast majority of Vogel’s territory located outside Butler County, Hadley said he was concerned the interests of Cranberry would be overshadowed by the needs of the rest of the district.
“It’s difficult and unfair to ask the senator who represents District 47 to represent the remaining 100th of a percent of his district in the interests of Cranberry and Butler County with the same type of enthusiasm and authority as he would the rest,” he said. “It’s just not logical.”
Township manager Jerry Andree said while Vogel is a great guy—Cranberry worked closely with the senator when he was a supervisor in New Sewickley Township—southern Butler County has little in common with the Beaver and Lawrence counties.
“Our interests are aligned with Southern Butler County and Butler County itself,” Hadley added. “The issues we are dealing with really aren’t the same as those they’re dealing with in Beaver and Lawrence counties. The plan is really unfair.”
The Next Step
Andree said Butler County commissioners are planning to testify May 2 at an open hearing in Harrisburg where the public will be able to give comments on the plan. Hadley said he already has been in touch with the commissioners—Dale Pinkerton, William McCarrier and Jim Eckstein—about the township’s position on the issue.
“They were very supportive,” he said. “They took the ball and started to run with it.”
Hadley said he also has reached out to House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, who is a member of the legislative reapportionment commission. He has yet to hear back from him, he said.
Cranberry officials said they do not have a problem with the proposed reapportionment plans for the state House of Representatives. Led by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, the 12th District would remain largely intact under the proposed plan, although Metcalfe would lose Evans City to Rep. Jim Marshall, R-Big Beaver, in the 14th District
Marshall also would take over Zelienople and Harmony boroughs and Jackson Township from Rep. Dick Stevenson, R-Grove City, in the 8th District.
Besides Turzai, the other members of the reapportionment committee are Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, House Minority Leader Frank Dermody and former Superior Court Judge Stephen McEwen.
For a look at the proposed legislative redistricting maps, click here.