My City Council Testimony on Redistricting in Philadelphia
August 16, 2011
City Council, Philadelphia
Hello President Verna and members of City Council. Today and over the coming weeks, many people will present recommendations for how the districts should be redrawn. In fact, council members Green and Sanchez can attest to a contest involving over 100 participants to do such a thing. In light of that I will instead speak about reform of the process itself.
As you and others involved in the process know, redistricting isn't simply a game of Tetris where you are just putting blocks together. There are politics involved and this has a degree of necessity to it. Our government representatives do need to make sure districts represent a level of community continuity. The problem arises when politics for the constituents is trumped by politics for the elected official.
This most apparently takes place with gerrymandering - drawing districts for the incumbents and not for the constituents. City Council has a rare opportunity. You have a solid majority of members that have no district boundaries or have no re-election concerns.
Before the session closes, I request Council works on and passes legislation that sets bright line compactness parameters for districts. This is an opportunity to put reasonable constraints on the political considerations that go into redistricting.
Thank you for your time today.