The orange area in the image below represents the 78th District of the PA House. Note that the western townships of Bedford County are part of the 69th District, which is based in Somerset County. Jesse Topper lives in Bedford and the Bedford School District, yet he represents only five of the ten townships and municipalities that make up Bedford School District. The remaining townships of Bedford School District are represented by Carl Metzger, who is in Somerset County. Metzger has satellite offices in Hyndman and Windber.
Chestnut Ridge School District is in the Northwest corner of Bedford County. Note the odd division of the townships in the Chestnut Ridge School District between the 69th and 78th districts.
According to the Legislative Data Processing Center, the population of Pennsylvania’s Legislative districts ranges from 60,000 to 65,100. The population of the 78th District at the time of the report was 64,181. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the current population estimate for Bedford County is 48,325 and the population of Fulton County is 14,640 for a combined total of 62,965. This is well within the range of the population of a state legislative district. It would seem logical that the 78th District would include these two counties rather than omitting the western part of Bedford County and including the southwestern townships of Franklin County. district.
Somerset County geographically differs from Bedford County. Note that the Allegheny Ridge separates Somerset County from Bedford County. Bedford County residents to the east of the ridge are culturally aligned with the rest of Bedford County, but are represented by Carl Metzger of Somerset County.
Bedford County is part of PA’s 35th Senatorial District stretching North through Cambria and into Clearfield Counties,
Franklin County is gerrymandered into four state house districts, 78, 82, 89, and 90. One result is Franklin County has one state representative who lives in the town of Bedford, Bedford County and another who lives in Mifflintown, Juniata County.
The strange shapes of the house districts also make it difficult for residents to know who represents them.
Three of the four legislators who represent Franklin County co-sponsored legislation that would end this type of gerrymandering. Jesse Topper who represents Mercersburg and Montgomery, Peters, and Warren Townships refused to help.
Deb Baughman has pledged to support gerrymandering reform as well as term limits for state legislators. Learn more about Deb at http://deb4pa.com.