York County's future political landscape has been mapped, with turf boundaries apparently settled in a two-year battle over state House and Senate redistricting.
The state Supreme Court's unanimous decision Wednesday to accept the Republican redrawn maps brings welcome closure to the GOP, while Democrats contend the new maps aren't much better than the set the Supreme Court tossed last year.
The most notable local changes are the addition of the 169th House District and the relocation of the 15th Senate District, which means freshman Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin and York, will no longer represent York County.
The changes: The 169th House District moves from the Philadelphia area to the Hanover area, adding representation because of growth in the southwestern portion of the county.
A whole slate of candidates had planned to run for the newly created district last year, but they had to abort their campaigns because the state reverted to an earlier map.
The 94th House District, state Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township's district, will stretch from the Maryland line to Springettsbury Township, adding the township and giving the district a longer, skinnier shape.
In the Senate, the 15th Senate District is shifted entirely outside York County, covering Dauphin and Perry counties.
York County will continue to have just one Senate seat entirely in its boundaries - the 28th District, held by Sen. Mike Waugh, R-Shrewsbury.
Portions of York County will be included in three other Senate districts - with York sharing the 31st District with Cumberland County, the 33rd District with Adams, Cumberland and Franklin, and the 48th District with Dauphin and Lebanon counties.
Initial plan rejected: Republicans started the redistricting process in 2011, with new district maps expected to be in effect for last year's primary.
The new maps were drawn, but they were also contested.
York County Republican Party chair Bob Wilson said he's mostly pleased with the court decision, but he would eventually like York to have two exclusive senators.
"If you're in Penn Township, you're thinking, 'Why am I contacting someone in Adams County who's spending the day in Franklin County today when I have to talk to them about something in York County?'"
Democratic Party of York County chair Bob Kefauver said the maps approved Wednesday differ "very slightly" from the maps that were nixed, "with these being a slight improvement."
"York County voters still get shortchanged by splitting communities ,and there are too many Senate districts," he said. "These maps are an insult to our democracy ... a perfect example of lawmakers choosing their voters instead of allowing voters the right to choose their lawmakers."
Kefauver said Saylor's district splits Springettsbury Township and runs half the distance of York County north to south, from Route 462 to the Maryland line.
"There has to be a way to make these districts more compact, but the Republicans chose not to go that way," he said.
Like his Republican counterpart, he also bemoaned the four senators and said York County residents are shortchanged by the splits. York should have two full Senate districts like, for example, Lancaster County, he said.
Removing the 15th Senate District from York removes the county's only Democratic senator, the first Democrat to win the 15th District in 76 years, Kefauver said.
He said redrawing the district to add all of Perry County and remove York is "a clear indication the Republicans want to make that district as red as possible ... on the heels of major Democratic victory."
Wilson said the Democrats complained about the 15th when it was "the distorted C-shape" and wanted it to be redrawn.
"And this is what they're ending up with, though I'm sure Rob Teplitz and the Democrat (sic) Party is not too pleased with it," Wilson said. "If you want to place blame, place blame on the Supreme Court and (Chief Justice) Ronald Castille."
Under the new maps, the Democrats will have to find a candidate who speaks well to Republicans and conservatives if they want to win seats, he said.
"They got their work cut out for them, they really do," he said. "But I'm not going to say it's the way the boundaries are drawn. They put it up in a court of law, and they lost."
Need for reform: Despite their differences, both political chairmen said the drawn-out redistricting debacle demonstrates a need for reform.
Both men said politics should be removed from redistricting, with it being performed by nonpartisan panels instead of elected legislators.
"The redistricting process in Pennsylvania is severely damaged," Kefauver said. "It's clearly not working with the best interests of the voters in mind, but rather the Republican lawmakers who forced these maps on the residents of the Commonwealth. We need a nonpartisan redistricting commission so we can put an end to this type of partisan activity."
Wilson said the redistricting experience over the past couple of years was "inappropriate."
"We were without proper representation in Harrisburg for more than a year," he said. "We need to change that moving forward, take politics out of it."
Department of State press secretary Ron Ruman said the decision could be subject to an appeal to federal courts, but the department must move ahead under the assumption that the new maps will take effect.
The boundaries are effective beginning with the 2014 election cycle. Representation will shift when the new legislature takes effect, Dec. 1, 2014, he said.
- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.