There are only two really outstanding features of the preliminary reapportionment of Pennsylvania’s house and senatorial districts in the county made public last week.
One is the bold reshuffling of precincts in the 48th District.
But even more interesting is what the Legislative Reapportionment Commission did to the 46th District.
Whereas the commission has apparently done Barry Stout or whoever might represent the 48th District in the future a large favor, the exact opposite was extended to the tender of the 46th District, John L. Brunner of Burgettstown.
The alterations in his district are so marked that they could well cost him his house seat on 1972. He is unhappy, and reports have it that a number of people in the northern panhandle of the county are organizing opposition to the tentative reapportionment before it becomes the law.
Under the new setup, the 46th District representative would have 36 precincts in northern Washington County and 17 communities in Beaver County.
If the non-Washington County districts were all in the southern section of Beaver County, the situation would not be so serious. But the district meanders all the way from Cecil Township to the Lawrence County line – a distance of approximately 70 miles.
Those who oppose the redistricting argue that neither the affected residents in Beaver County nor Washington County can hope for effective representation regardless of the residence of their assemblyman.
The prolonged district is made of in large part of unpopulated “wide open spaces,” a state park and jumps the Ohio River in central Beaver County.
Legislating against Brunner or any other Washington Countian is the loss of a Democrat stronghold like Canonsburg and the addition of the 17 Beaver County districts where a problem of identity might arise.
Washington County for all intents and purposes loses about half a legislator in the process.
The new, sweeping 48th District runs the gamut of social strata and encompasses just about every kind of environment from the typically suburban areas of Peters and Union Townships in the northeast to the coal mining regions of the east and southeast to the rural farming communities of the south and southwest, with a side trip into urbanized Canonsburg.
Canonsburg and the 14th southern tier precincts move in the district, while South Strabane, Monongahela and New Eagle move out.
But with all the changes there remains a new gain of Democratic registrants.
Roger Raymond Fischer, the lone county Republican assemblyman, does not benefit significantly with the changes. He gets South Strabane, which is slightly in the GOP column as are most of the several small districts he inherits from Brunner.
But Fischer has never had any trouble being elected even though he faced a 4,000 Democratic majority.
With the addition of Monongahela and New Eagle, A.J. DeMedio has a more “comfortable” Democratic 49th District than ever. It is virtually impossible for any Democrat to lose in the district.
The same holds true in Austin J. Murphy’s 46th Senatorial District, where the city of Monessen with its near 12-1 Democratic majority was appended.