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Letter: Corman and Benninghoff Failed Us on Redistricting Reform

on July 06, 2020 4:45 AM

This Independence Day has been marred by a gross failure of Centre County representation. Lack of action from Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman and House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff helped kill legislation that would have stopped gerrymandering in Pennsylvania.

There is overwhelming bipartisan support for reform. Over two-thirds of the mostly Republican townships and boroughs representing 92% of Centre County’s population passed resolutions calling for an independent district drawing commission. But Majority Leaders Corman and Benninghoff have been passively noncommittal, allowing reform (languishing since spring of 2019) to die in committee.

With the 2020 census underway it's too late to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to establish a citizens' commission before the next round of political mapping. However, FairDistrictsPA is not giving up.

Republican Wendi Thomas (House District 178) has introduced HB2638, which at least places some fairness restrictions and safeguards on the five state politicians (including Corman and Benninghoff) who will produce the new district maps.

It is possible that Benninghoff may not get a chance to draw his own district (and others’). He is facing a challenge in November from Peter Buck, who favors reform. Unfortunately Jake Corman has a few years before the seat he inherited from his father (first elected 43 years ago) is up for review.

Time to throw out politicians whose idea of “leadership” is to dole out patronage and rig the rules to prevent challengers. We need someone to step up and defend government of, by and for the people of Pennsylvania.

Willem van den Berg

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