Reapportionment plan adds new representative to area

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After more than a year in limbo, the state Supreme Court put its stamp of approval on a revised plan that redraws the boundaries of the state’s legislative districts.


The plan calls for all of Greene County to remain in the 50th Legislative District, along with Centerville Borough and East Bethlehem Township in Washington County. Also, all of Greene County will be part of the newly redrawn 46th Senatorial District.


Sen. Richard Kasunic, D-Dunbar, will no longer represent any communities in Washington County’s Mon Valley. State Sen. Tim Solobay has picked them up as part of the 46th Senatorial District.


And state Sen. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, will continue to represent constituents in Peters Township as part of the 37th Senatorial District. He also gained the part of McDonald Borough that lies in Allegheny County. In the state House, Rep. John Maher, R-Upper St. Clair, will continue to represent all of Peters Township, along with his home community and most of Bethel Park.


Solobay called the final map “great politically and regionally for me. The majority truly gets to draw the lines. I was very fortunate that I didn’t get pushed into West Virginia.”


Solobay said he didn’t lose any territory from his former House district in Washington and Canonsburg, and Democratic registration outnumbers Republicans 2 to 1.


Many residents may first learn who their new senator or representative is when they check their mailboxes. Solobay said he is eager to learn when he can start “direct communication with these folks on an official basis.”


He noted the 46th Senatorial District includes or is next to areas that are a mecca for gas exploration and strong areas of coal production.


Aliquippa, Beaver County, will now be part of the 46th Senatorial District, which Solobay said will bring “my district very near the proposed ethane cracker plant, which could provide thousands of jobs to the region.”


The senatorial district will no longer include Monessen, which is to be the home of the AccelorMittal coke plant. That city is now part of the 32nd District, but Solobay noted members of the workforce will come from both sides of the Mon Valley.


The senatorial district will now include California University of Pennsylvania, along with Washington & Jefferson College and Waynesburg University. For the rest of Washington County, the changes are more complicated when it comes to new boundaries of state House districts.


State Rep. Jim Christiana’s 15th Legislative District will pick up a large chunk of western Washington County from Hanover Township to East and West Finley formerly held by state Reps. Peter Daley and Jesse White.


In early 2012, the 29-year-old Christiana, R-Beaver, announced his candidacy for a redrawn district that included Washington County, but the state Supreme Court nixed that plan because it included too many split municipalities.


Despite the fact reapportionment must take place in time for elections following the decennial census, state representatives and state senators ran in 2012 in districts with boundaries that had been in place since 2002.


Christiana, a 2006 graduate of W&J, said Wednesday from the state capital, “I’m excited about meeting the people in the new 15th District, finding out their needs and finding ways to deliver on those needs in Harrisburg.


“I plan to get out and talk to as many people in the new district as possible, seeing folks I interacted with not too long ago when I was in college.”


Of the on-again, off-again nature of reapportionment, Christiana said, “We were in some uncharted waters with this process, and we needed some clarity.”


State Rep. Rick Saccone, who formerly had communities only in Ringgold School District in Washington County, expands his part of the county to include Somerset, Nottingham and Union townships and Finleyville.


Communities that are no longer part of Saccone’s 39th Legislative District include Carroll Township’s first and second precincts and New Eagle, which are now part of the 49th Legislative District.


The state House seat currently held by Rep. White, D-Cecil, will continue to include Canton, Mt. Pleasant, Robinson and Smith townships in Washington County, plus Burgettstown and Midway.


The 46th District’s territory, however, expands into Collier and South Fayette townships in Allegheny County, along with Bridgeville, Heidelberg, Oakdale and all of McDonald Borough, which straddles Washington and Allegheny counties.


The 48th Legislative District seat now held by state Rep. Brandon Neuman, D-North Strabane, will continue to include Washington, East Washington, Canonsburg and Houston, and North Franklin, North Strabane and South Strabane townships.


Neuman will lose Bentleyville, Ellsworth and Cokeburg to the 49th Legislative District seat held by Daley, D-California. That district will stretch from New Eagle and Monongahela south to Bentleyville and West Brownsville and west to North Bethlehem.


The 48th Legislative District picks up Chartiers Township, which had been part of the 46th District.


The population of local legislative districts ranges from 60,247 in the 49th to 63,365 in the 46th, according to 2010 U.S. Census figures.


The 46th Senatorial District includes 254,122 people, while the 37th Senatorial District has 263,549 constituents.


For the revised final reapportionment plans for the House and Senate, visit http://www.redistricting.state.pa.us/Maps/index.cfmw.


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