New state lawmaker?
If Keith McCall, who was elected over-and-over again to represent the 122nd Legislative District until he chose not to run for re-election last year, would likely be serving his last term if he was still in office - and not necessarily by his own choice.
Let's pretend that he ran for re-election in 2010 and won, and decided to run for re-election in 2014. Under a proposal in Harrisburg, he wouldn't be able to - at least not in his 122nd Legislative District that he represented for 28 years.
McCall is from Summit Hill and the proposed 2011 Preliminary Reapportionment Plan, which has been filed with the Pa. Department of State, calls for Summit Hill to be removed from the 122nd Legislative District.
It would be placed with the 124th Legislative District, which mostly represents Schuylkill County but also contains part of Berks County. The present state legislator in the 124th District is Jerry Knowles of Tamaqua.
Summit Hill is the ONLY Carbon County town being removed from the 122nd Legislative District. Every other town in Carbon will still be part of the area that had been served by McCall, and is presently a part of Doyle Heffley's represented area.
Hopefully, Heffley and Knowles will oppose the move.
How can Summit Hill officials compete fairly for state grants or even legislature effecting the borough if the rest of its legislative area is in other counties?
Already the senator for Summit Hill is from Schuylkill County. However, the Senate District also includes Lansford, Palmerton, East Penn, and numerous other municipalities. Of course, looking at the map, this district also isn't divided up fairly for county residents.
Back to the redistricting proposal for the state legislature, the reason for the Summit Hill extraction from Carbon is because every 10 years, the Census dictates that based on population lawmakers can represent areas consisting of only a specific number of people.
That's why Lehigh County has seven different legislators representing different parts of the county and Carbon County presently has only one.
It's a shame the representation of Carbon County can't remain as it presently exists. If a slice had to be taken from Carbon, why couldn't it be a municipality which borders via roadways an adjoining district?
Carbon County Commissioner William O'Gurek pointed out that for Heffley to pay a visit to the borough of Lansford, he must travel through Summit Hill. Traveling on Route 902 to Lansford takes him through Summit Hill proper. Going to Lansford via Route 209 means traveling through Summit Hill in the area of the Summit Hill High School.
There's one other alternative and that is to enter Lansford from Coaldale, which is from Schuylkill County.
So, in essence, there will be a slice in Heffley's coverage area.
Summit Hill Borough Council is opposed to the proposed removal from the 122nd Legislative District. It unanimously agreed to voice the disapproval in a letter that O'Gurek will hand-deliver to the proper authorities in Harrisburg.
There are petitions being placed at various locations in Summit Hill. Residents can voice their objections via the petitions. The petitions are available for signing at the borough hall.
O'Gurek hopes there are some petitions filled by Thursday afternoon so he can take them with him to Harrisburg when he and McCall protest the redistricting plan.
Hopefully, there is enough outcry from the hilltop community to cause the proper authorities to reconsider the proposal.
Every year at election, officials wonder why more people don't come out to vote. It's silly concepts like this which turn people off. Voting for a lawmaker one year and then not having the same lawmaker represent them the next election because of redistricting nonsense is a great way to make people apathetic - and untrusting - of politics.
By RON GOWER