This is part of ongoing coverage in “District 172: The Politics of Change after State Rep. John Perzel,” a collaborative effort with Philadelphia Neighborhoods funded by J-Lab.
Shaping legislative districts is by no means illegal. It’s a part of the democratic process.
After each U.S. Census informs leaders about population and demographic shifts throughout the country, each state, county and municipality is meant to see subtle movement in its boundaries to better reflect the realities there, from balancing population totals and community divides. For example, in the post-1990-census redistricting, Philadelphia lost two House seats to its western suburbs due to population growth there.
Where redistricting has earned the more negatively connoted term of ‘gerrymandering’ — coined in 1812 after a partisan Massachusetts governor — has been when political, not population, shifts seem to motivate legislative rewiring.
Now again, Pennsylvania is revisiting its boundaries, like the rest of the country, following the 2010 census. In April, a former Superior Court president was named the independent chair of the state’s Legislative Reapportionment Commission, which by October is due to send to the state Supreme Court its reapportionment draft of state legislative districts.
One district that will be watched by some insiders is the Pennsylvania 172nd State House Legislative district, formerly the precinct of John Perzel.