[Editor's Note: This op-ed was first published by the Pennsylvania Capital-Star and is republished here with permission.]
Much has been written about the plight of Pennsylvania’s cities. Presidential candidates come through and hold events in front of old factories.
They talk about days gone by and the need to invest in our communities. There are complicated, exclusionary programs meant to help, but we have not fundamentally addressed the problems holding back our cities until now – underrepresentation due to gerrymandering.
But now there’s a simple fix to make sure that our cities have a seat at the table and get the resources they need at a time when they are primed for growth.
Adopt the state house map developed by the Legislative Redistricting Commission under the leadership of Chairman Mark Nordenberg.
Cities like ours have been afflicted by business closures and disinvestment, and now when there is a desire for people to move to our communities, it is critical that we take advantage of the moment and make sure we have the representation we deserve so that our communities can have a voice in Harrisburg.
For decades, our representation has been limited because of gerrymandered legislative districts. Our communities have been packed together or expertly cut to minimize the number of representatives from cities.
For the first time, the LRC’s House map recognizes the importance of our cities and our residents. We will be properly represented in Harrisburg with more people who can carry our concerns and needs with them to office.
We will be able to improve our economic performance and make sure that we have the tools to grow our cities, contributing to Pennsylvania’s greater economy.
Many of Pennsylvania’s cities have adapted and become more dynamic over the past several years despite the challenges they face in Harrisburg. New residents and immigrants have boosted the vibrancy and population of places like Allentown, Lancaster, Williamsport and Scranton. We have new and growing businesses, residents, and institutions for the first time in decades.
Now we have an opportunity to speed our recovery by making sure our communities have a stronger voice when the most important decisions are being made.
This won’t just help our cities. Economic strength in our smaller cities means economic strength for all of Pennsylvania. It was our recipe for success decades ago, and we can strengthen our commonwealth using the same playbook that made us an economic powerhouse at the turn of the century.
LRC Chairman Nordenberg knows our cities and metropolitan areas drive population and economic growth. We should adopt the LRC’s house map that increases our representation and helps our communities take the next steps in long term revitalization and regrowth.
Page Cognetti, Danene Sorace and Derek Slaughter are the mayors, respectively, of Scranton, Lancaster and Williamsport. All three are Democrats.
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