Congressional maps discussed at Somerton meeting

Somerton Civic Association’s Meeting welcomed a representative from Fair Districts PA.

The Somerton Civic Association last week held a meeting that included a presentation from a representative of Fair Districts PA on Pennsylvania’s congressional maps, a vote on a zoning matter, a developer buying land at the former Budd Company site and other updates from local officials.

Bernadette Freedman was the guest speaker representing Fair Districts PA, to discuss in-depth the work of her organization and the dilemma of gerrymandered maps across the United States.

Fair Districts PA labels itself a “nonpartisan, citizen-led, statewide coalition working to create a process for redistricting that is transparent, impartial and fair.”

“Gerrymandering is manipulating the electoral maps to gain an advantage in an election,” Freedman said. “We (Pennsylvania) are a politically gerrymandered state.”

Freedman stated that her group believes Pennsylvania’s previous map was among the top three most gerrymandered states in the country. She specifically detailed the map of the old 7th Congressional District, located outside of Philadelphia, as the “poster child” of what a gerrymandered district looks like.

Freedman believes Senate Bill 22 and House Bill 722 would remedy the state of Pennsylvania’s gerrymandering dilemma. These bills would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution and assign the redrawing of the congressional districts to an “impartial and independent redistricting commission.” Senate Bill 22 was introduced by Lisa Boscala (D) and Mario Scavello (R). House Bill 722 was introduced by Steven Samuelson (D) and Eric Roe (R).

The proposed commission would include 11 members. Four of those members would come from the party with the largest voter registration in Pennsylvania, four from the party with the second-largest registration, and the last three from those not affiliated with either major party. For a map to pass, it would need seven votes from the panel, with a member of each party voting for it as well.

Freedman believes the new map enacted is an improvement from the previous map, but it is “not a permanent solution.”

In other news:

The Somerton Civic voted unanimously to oppose a request for a variance of a house to operate as a family daycare for a maximum of 12 children. The three-story twin house is located on the cul-de-sac of the 600 block of Lawler Place. The daycare was hoping to look after infants and preschoolers. The days and hours proposed were weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but kids would get picked up from 4 to 6 p.m., according to attorney Shawn D. Ward. The group ultimately had too many concerns and would not agree to this request.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the previous week that the former Budd Company at 1 Red Lion Road and 10098 Sandmeyer Lane had been sold to Commercial Development Corp.

Rep. Martina White will be hosting an opioid forum on Thursday, March 22, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at KleinLife, 10100 Jamison Ave. The forum will feature a Russian translator. There will be a second opioid forum hosted by White at Archbishop Ryan on April 12. ••

John Cole can be reached at JCole@bsmphilly.com