The Business of Redistricting
This week Allegheny County Council begins discussion on how to redraw the boundaries of the 13 district based seats to reflect the new Census count that puts the County’s population at 1.223 million. This is the second time in Council’s history that a reapportionment has occurred: the old commissioner system that gaveway in 2000had three elected officials that served at large.
We wrote about the firstreapportionment in a Brief back in 2002. Hopefully the "Special Committee on Reapportionment", comprised of five Democrats and two Republicans, does not go down the road that was traveled nearly ten years ago as described in that Brief.
Based on the 2000 Census the typical district would contain 98,589 people. With slight variation the approved districts ranged from 97k to just over 100k. The new Census count would put the population count at 94,013 per district. The key consideration that the Committee has to make is on how to avoid dividing municipalities into separate districts. Currently the City of Pittsburgh touches four of the 13 districts: nearly all of the 10th (Wilkinsburg is the only non-city municipality in that district), parts of the 11th and 12th, and all of the 13th. The County’s administrative code has the key language: "unless absolutely necessary, no city, borough, township, or ward should be divided in forming councilmanic districts…A municipality shall be divided into as few County Council districts as possible". The City still represents about 1/4th of the County’s total population as it did in the 2000 Census. It could be possible that the City’s influence spreads to three districts this time around instead of the current four. The original 2002 plan referenced in the Brief wanted to have the City touch 6 of the 13 districts.
This will be the first meeting of this special committee, so there is no set schedule yet for public hearings or input as of yet.