PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The state Legislature has begun to redraw Pennsylvania’s 17 congressional districts. That’s one less than the 18 we currently have.
A citizens group with input from thousands has come up with its own recommended map, and it’s good news for this region.READ MORE: Pittsburgh International Jazz Fest Returns To Highmark Stadium
When Congressman Conor Lamb gave up his House seat to run for the Senate, some thought his 17th Congressional District in suburban Pittsburgh would get carved up and eliminated.
That still might happen, but a Philadelphia-based citizens group called the Committee of Seventy has a project called Draw the Lines PA, which has produced a citizens map that keeps all the congressional districts in this region.
Over 7,000 citizens across the state took part in drawing compact districts that cut few county or municipal lines. One of the participants is Lauren Ban of Butler who says, as a Pitt junior, she just fell into the task of drawing congressional maps.
“At first it sounded really complicated. But then we learned about redistricting. We learned about gerrymandering and the harm it does and soon enough, we’re clicking around making our own maps,” Ban said.
Now a 22-year-old Pitt law student, Ban drew one of over 1,500 maps that led to the final map.READ MORE: State Police: Man Shot, Killed By Police After Stabbing Three People, Injuring Police Officer
“These districts can’t be bizarre shapes. They can’t be snaking all over left and right,” she said.
Under the proposed Draw the Lines PA map, Lamb’s 17th District remains in Beaver County and most of Allegheny County’s suburbs, including a small part of Pittsburgh.
The 16th District of Republican Mike Kelly is pretty much the same with more of Butler County, including Cranberry. The 14th District of Republican Guy Reschenthaler would add in Somerset County and part of Cambria County, and the 12th District of Democrat Mike Doyle would continue to include most of the city and Mon Valley, with a small part of Westmoreland County added.
So does any party have a political advantage with this map? No, says Justin Villere, who coordinated the map-drawing project.
“There would be five pretty solidly Democratic districts and seven pretty solidly Republican districts, and the difference there is just the different of rural versus urban trends in Pennsylvania,” Villere said. “But then there are an additional five seats that would be a toss-up that either party could win.”
In this region, while Doyle’s proposed district is solidly Democratic and Reschenthaler’s is solidly Republican, both the Kelly and Lamb districts would be competitive.MORE NEWS: Hofbrauhaus Suspends General Manager Amid Investigation Into Racism Allegations At Beer Festival
Of course, this is just a proposed map. The final map will be the result of a compromise between the Republican-controlled Legislature and a Democratic governor.