District Boundary Confusion Dominates PA House, Senate Races

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The clock is ticking on candidates for the Pennsylvania State House and Senate to file their nominating petitions, but some of the candidates complain their district boundaries keep changing.

They have just eight days to get enough signatures on their nominating petitions to get on the ballot.

Two years ago, State House candidate Kevin Haggerty of Dunmore finished second among five candidates in the Democratic primary for the 112th State House District.

He is running again and is gathering signatures in an effort to be on the ballot for April`s primary.

"I don`t know if my signatures are all going to count," said Haggerty, "because parts of the districts don`t count. They may say tomorrow that it`s a different district."

Why the confusion?

Because the boundaries of 112th District, and many other districts, shifted late last month when the State Supreme Court ruled the state`s latest redistricting effort unconstitutional.

Justices ruled the legislature simply carved up too many Pennsylvania cities, townships, and boroughs between districts to make constitutional sense.

Justices also claimed lawmakers drew up new district boundaries to keep many incumbents in office.

As a result, the high court turned back the clock on legislative districts to boundaries used in the last five state House and Senate elections.

"The 2001 plan violates the one person one vote rule," said State Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi.

He wants a federal court to declare the recent State Supreme Court ruling unconstitutional, because it ignores the results of the 2010 census.

The recent census shows drastic population shifts within our state`s Senate and House districts.

"In some cases, there’s a 40 percent difference between the smallest and largest districts," said Senator Pileggi, "and on the Senate lines about 30 percent difference between the smallest and largest."

Because the federal court could order the legislature to change it's district boundaries again, candidate Kevin Haggerty said he's not sure of what the 112th District boundaries will look like.

"It could be from the mid-valley to all the way up to the North Pocono area, Dunmore. It could be Moosic, Old Forge. I might as well run for Governor," Haggerty said.

When Haggerty started his campaign in December, the 112th District included Jessup.

The State Supreme Court ruling means the borough is no longer in the district.

Before the ruling, Haggerty spent time campaigning there, and spent campaign money to put up two large, expensive signs in this building on Jessup's main street.

"They are useless right now," said Haggerty.

Many candidates feel they have wasted money and effort working in areas they now won't represent.

Meantime, because of the shifting districts, Republican legislative leaders are considering a bill to move the April 24 primary to May, so lawmakers can draw new districts that would hold up in court.

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