Redrawing districts to benefit political parties is not new
Spring Township rezoning would have dire impacts
The proposed expansion of the Amberleigh development was “discussed” at the Aug. 5 hearing with the Spring Township Board of Supervisors meeting, but the discussion seemed to focus on what Amberleigh wants to do on the property. This is clearly putting the cart before the horse. Currently, the approximately 100 acres is zoned as A-1, or “Agricultural Preservation,” meant to keep open spaces and preserve the rural character of the area. Amberleigh wants it changed to R-3 (a new zoning code) which is “High Density.” Now, I don’t begrudge the man who wants to sell his property, and farming is a hard sell to prospective new owners, but the opposition to the re-zoning to High Density is loud and organized. We, as stakeholders, are vehemently opposed to this re-zoning, not to mention Amberleigh’s initial plans for development. Mr. Hartle’s land was zoned A-1 for a reason and that reason remains — to protect the rural character of our little township. By re-zoning it, we become part of Bellefonte and State College sprawl. State College’s luxury apartments have priced a majority of students out of the area, and Spring Township should not have to pay the price for that. A member of the board said (threatened?) that we haven’t had a tax increase in years. That’s a non-sequitur; show me on the budget what has changed so significantly that we need to destroy the very fabric of our community.
Put an end to gerrymandering
My state representative, Republican Stephanie Borowicz (part of Centre and all of Clinton County (SBorowicz@pahousegop.com, 570-748-5480), should take note of the strong bipartisan support for ending gerrymandering.
The extreme partisanship and voter apathy that plague politics in Pennsylvania and our nation are largely due to gerrymandering, whereby politicians choose their voters rather than the other way around. Every 10 years (after the census), the maps that define Congressional and state legislative districts must be redrawn. When political party leaders do it behind closed doors they create “safe” districts where the party’s nominee is guaranteed election. This discourages citizens from bothering to vote, and it means that, to get elected, politicians just need to cater to the more extreme members of their party.
Both major parties gerrymander. In Maryland most recently it was the Democrats. In PA in 2012 the Republicans gerrymandered our state. Next time around, after the 2020 census, because the governor is a Democrat and the PA Supreme Court is made up mostly of Democrats, Democrats will most likely be able to have their way with the state’s electoral maps.
We (FairDistrictsPA.com) have been urging municipal boards to adopt a resolution calling on state legislators to create an independent citizens’ redistricting commission. The issue is basic fairness that everyone can appreciate. In the eight Centre County municipalities where I was personally involved with getting the resolution passed, the party affiliations of the board members are 11 Democrats, 20 Republicans, and 1 Independent. All have passed unanimously.
Say no to ‘carpetbagging candidates’
They say all politics is local, so why shouldn’t our elected officials also be? We’ve recently had a slew of candidates that appear to be taking on the establishment, but have transplanted themselves here thinking that they can take up our causes and make a name for themselves in doing so. Clearly, this hasn’t worked. On both the state and federal levels, these carpetbagging candidates have claimed to be fighting for us, but have only lived in the area for a few years, or just long enough to qualify for the ballot. This can been seen in both the recent state senate race, and the prior U.S House races. While I support bringing in fresh ideas, I want these ideas to originate from a member of our community who actually knows us. Who has gone to school with us, worked with us, and been there for us during trying times. I’m sure there is a time and a place for these other wanna-be politicians to run for office. But the time is not now, and it certainty isn’t here.