8 hours ago
Monday, February 13, 2012
Young Republicans to meet
The Luzerne County Young Republicans (“LCYRs”) will be holding its monthly meeting on Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 7pm at the Waterfront Bar and Grill on N. River Street in Wilkes-Barre.
The LCYRs are pleased to announce that Republican State Representative candidates, Rick Arnold (119th), Aaron Kaufer (120th) and Pete Mailloux (121st) will be in attendance and address the group.
Partisan politics play too big a role in reapportionment
By Aaron Kaufer
The recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision should teach us one thing about the reapportionment process: there is too much party control. Redistricting is supposed to be based on census data and population changes to help balance out uneven districts. Instead, it has become a political tool for the majority party to gain an upper-hand over its opposition.
This year the Republicans used it to their advantage. They sought to manipulate districts in order to strengthen Republican re-election bids and challenge vulnerable Democrats. To do this, many Democratic towns got reapportioned out of these districts and placed into one heavily Democratic territory where Republicans have already conceded victory. This political chess match results in partisan districts, partisan politicians, and partisan stalemate. We need to reform this system.
As a Republican candidate, I would like to praise the leadership of Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Bethlehem, and parts of Senate Bill 650, co-sponsored by Sen. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, and Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township.
The bill includes five considerations by which a district will be created: ideal population, municipal boundaries, contiguous territory, compactness, and communities of interest. It would also prohibit reapportionment based on the address of incumbent legislators, previous election results, and most importantly, party affiliation. Lastly, the bill calls for a full-time Legislative Reapportionment Bureau in hopes of fixing the partisan nature of this issue.
Although I agree with most of this bill, I do not believe a separate full-time Legislative Reapportionment Bureau is necessary for a job that is done only once a decade. Instead, we should look to other models that have had success. In Iowa, a separate non-legislative staff draws the map and the legislature votes on it. In California, a panel of state residents picked by the state auditor handles the map-drawing. Both models have been lauded by numerous independent agencies.
It is important to note that these changes in Iowa and California only happened due to mounting public pressure. Finally that same pressure exists in Pennsylvania and we must make the necessary changes for a better governmental model.
My father once told me that it's better to agree for the common good than to disagree for no good. Politicians should heed that advice. The reapportionment process is a perfect example, but only one of the many examples of partisan politics that permeates our system. We need a voice to stand up to the political culture of Harrisburg. I hope to be that voice.