The Community Action Committee of theLehighValleyhastily issued a statement tonight criticizing the proposed “disintegration” of theLehighValley’s political power and cultural, social and economic unity by a state commission with either an errant understanding of theLehighValley, a disregard for the region or some sinister political agenda. The statement by Community Action Board President Alicia Karner follows in its entirety:
After months of speculation and weeks of rumors, the public finally got to see the latest Congressional redistricting maps done every ten years, as required by law. Because of the change inPennsylvania’s population, it was assumed that the districts of today would like very different than those of tomorrow. But in the Lehigh Valley’s wildest dreams, I’m not sure anyone expected the 15th Congressional District to morph from a condensed geographic region that wisely linked common people and problems together into a districts that covers portions of five counties. That is right: FIVE counties. The common political and socio-economic threads that bind the residents of theLehighValleyhave been not only ignored but trampled on by the maps created by the Reapportionment Commission. Clearly, someone’s poltical gain trumped good and common sense.
The Commission, comprised of five representatives (the Pennsylvania House majority caucus, the House minority caucus, the Senate majority caucus and the Senate minority caucus as well as the governor’s office), clearly relied too much on the statistical machinations of the nameless, faceless computer programs that look at nothing but voter registration and the desire to balance the re-election hopes of those in office. Municipal boundary lines were ignored…transportations systems were ignored…regional social service networks were ignored…regional identity was ignored. Counter-productive to decades of effort to brand the region as the LehighValley, as wisely advised and incentivized by the Commonwealth itself, we have now been reduced to a separation that will take another two decades to over come.
In addition to the stretching and dicing of the 15th Congressional District, the residents ofEastonand the Slate Belt are presumed to have similar political concerns of the residents of Luzerne andLackawannaCounties. Ask mostLehighValley residents to find either of those counties on a map, or to identify the top concerns of residents in those counties and I’m sure the response will be blank stares. And so now not only are theEastonarea and Slate Belt forced to be split in their State Senate representation inHarrisburg, but now their political voice inWashingtonhas been weakened, too. What does this say to the already politically apathetic? This disintegration of the region’s identity only further encourages their disenfranchisement.
Hopefully, it will not only by the Community Action Committee of the LEHIGH VALLEY, but the LEHIGH VALLEY International Airport, and the LEHIGH VALLEY Economic Development Corporation, the Greater LEHIGH VALLEY Chamber of Commerce and all the other valleywide organizations that take a stand against the political division of this region most of us embrace as theLehighValley, and seek unified representation of this place we call home.