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LETTER: Our votes count
My vote counts and so does yours. Or at least they should. Systems that try to limit my voice, my political power, my vote make me mad. It should make you mad too.
The crazy district boundaries created by gerrymandering do exactly that. Although the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision called it unconstitutional, the decision only applies to Congressional maps, not the gerrymandered State Senate and State House districts. The unwillingness of many Pennsylvania General Assembly incumbents, especially 13-term Representative Stan Saylor, to address this problem is absolutely self-serving and unacceptable.
As Saylor’s opponent in the November election, I believe that the issues I raise in this campaign have broad appeal to the average, moderate voter. Incumbents must not. Why else would they need to stack the deck in their favor by designing district boundaries comprised overwhelmingly with their base.
Gerrymandering severely limits the genuine competition of ideas and, indirectly, inhibits compromise because those incumbents don’t need to vie for you and me, the average, moderate voter. Instead they appeal to the extremes of their party base, be it right or left.
The result? When you cater to the extremes it’s much harder to find common ground and the voter gets government paralysis. Haven’t we all had more than enough stalemate and paralysis. I know I have.
Among the states, Pennsylvania is one of the most gerrymandered. The simple remedy is to take district design away from the Harrisburg politicians. The courts may do that. But shouldn’t that be an obligation of the General Assembly? Legislation to create an independent commission has been introduced in both the State House of Representatives and the State Senate. It is stalled even though it has sponsors from both parties. Unfortunately my election opponent, 13-term Saylor, is not a co-sponsor of that legislation. I call on him to become one.
Since the needed correction will require passage in two separate sessions of the General Assembly, it seems clear that the House leadership wants to drag this out. In that way, the reapportionment that must occur after the 2020 census will, again, be based on illogical gerrymandered boundaries. Neither party should have that power because it rightfully belongs to the people through a neutral commission.
I applaud the York Dispatch for the recent editorial on this issue. It was strong and persuasive — except, apparently, to our elected representatives.
Anything that diminishes the voice of the people is a threat to democracy. The protection of that democracy is the duty of true patriots.
Candidate for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives