Peters Council votes down resolution seeking Senate switch

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McMURRAY – A resolution asking that Peters Township be moved out of the 37th Senatorial District, represented by newly elected state Sen. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, and into state Sen. Tim Solobay’s 46th District failed by a resounding 5-2 vote of council Monday.


Councilman David Ball brought up the idea, saying he felt the township’s more than 20,000 residents had more in common with neighboring communities to the south than in Smith’s district, which, except for Peters, is in Allegheny County. Ball told council he believed the township had little influence in Allegheny County and could be better served by Solobay when it came to dealing with the state Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Protection.


If the resolution had passed, there was no guarantee the move would have been included in the redistricting plan set by the state.


Once census figures are tabulated following the census every 10 years, often legislative district lines are redrawn to reflect changes in population. The first legislative redistricting plan was struck down by the Supreme Court, and a second plan was approved by the state Legislative Reapportionment Commission in June that will take effect with the 2014 elections.


Peters Township is the only municipality in Washington County that is paired with communities in Allegheny County in both the state House and Senate districts. Ball said he had no problem remaining in the House district represented by state Rep. John Maher, R-Upper St. Clair.


Ball only received support from Councilwoman Monica Merrell, who also voted for the resolution to ask for the switch.


Councilman Robert Atkison, who voted no, said he saw no benefit in requesting the move, and Councilman James Berquist said since population dictated the districts, changes in other districts would need to be made. Berquist also said he believed Peters Township had more in common with the areas in the 37th District than with “the bottom of Greene County.”


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