Wolf’s congressional redistricting listening tour to begin next week | Five for the Weekend

Members of the governor’s Redistricting Advisory Council will embark on a statewide listening tour next week

By: - October 16, 2021 6:30 am

Gov. Tom Wolf joined legislative leaders and education stakeholders at the state Capitol to celebrate the largest state funding increase for public school students in Pennsylvania history and the groundbreaking funding in the new Level Up initiative to provide an additional $100 million to the 100 lowest wealth school districts (Commonwealth Media Services photo).

Happy weekend, all.

With the map-drawing process already underway in Pennsylvania’s legislative redistricting and congressional reapportionment efforts, Gov. Tom Wolf announced earlier this week, a series of listening sessions on congressional reapportionment to be held by the governor’s Redistricting Advisory Council.

The six-member council is tasked with providing “guidance to the governor to assist his review of the congressional redistricting plan which will be passed by the General Assembly later this year,” according to the governor’s office.

“The opinions of Pennsylvanians must be heard as the legislature prepares to draw new congressional district boundary maps,” Wolf in a statement announcing the listening sessions. “The decisions made through the redistricting process will affect every person and community in Pennsylvania for the next decade. Reviewing the maps is one of my most important acts as governor and I take that responsibility extremely seriously.”

He continued: “I have long believed that gerrymandering is wrong, and politicians should not use the redistricting process to choose their own voters. That is why I have tasked the advisory council with listening to people and providing their expert advice to me so that I can better evaluate the maps in the best interest of all Pennsylvanians.”

The listening sessions are slated to begin next Monday, and the schedule is outlined below:

Mon., Oct. 18: Rachel Carson State Office Building (400 Market St., Harrisburg), 5:30 p.m.

Wed., Oct. 20: University of Scranton Brennan Hall, The Rose Room (800 Linden St. Scranton), 5:30 p.m.

Fri., Oct. 22: Point Park University, Center for Media Innovation (305 Wood St., Pittsburgh), 11 a.m.

Mon., Oct. 25: West Chester University, Swope Music Building, Ware Recital Hall (817 S. High St., West Chester), 5 p.m.

Wed., Oct. 27: Penn State Behrend, Pat Black III Conference Center (5101 Jordan Rd., Erie), 11 a.m.

Fri., Oct. 29: Drexel University, Creese Student Center (3210 Chestnut St., Philadelphia), 11 a.m.

Mon., Nov. 1: Penn State Main Campus, HUB-Robeson center (201 Old Main, University Park), 11 a.m.

Wed., Nov. 3: Mansfield University, Manser Hall (31 S. Academy St., Mansfield), 5:30 p.m.

As always, the top 5 stories from this week are below.

The Pennsylvania Judicial Center in Harrisburg (Capital-Star file)

1. Your statewide voters guide for the 2021 general election in Pennsylvania

Every year is an election year in Pennsylvania, and that includes 2021.

In this election, there aren’t any trickily-worded ballot questions or presidential electors at stake. But that doesn’t make it any less important. Besides school boards, county commissioners, and mayoral races, voters must fill four open seats on the statewide bench when they go to the polls Nov. 2

Before we get into that, if you have questions about how to vote, and if you can, check out our other guide here. You have until Oct. 18 to register to cast a ballot this year, and you can register online here.

Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks at a union rally on Oct. 16, 2020 in Pittsburgh. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

2. Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro will seek Democratic nod for governor in 2022

Josh Shapiro is running for governor.

It’s a statement many have known to be true for quite some time, but will become official on Wednesday in Pittsburgh, according to published media reports on Monday and Democratic sources. A spokesperson for Shapiro could not immediately be reached for comment.

Shapiro, 48, elected the state’s Attorney General in 2016, entered the spotlight with a number of high profile legal actions, including releasing a grand jury report on sexual abuse by Catholic priests, as well as by challenging former President Donald Trump in court and on cable news.

Shapiro’s reported entrance formalizes Democrats’ statewide field for 2022. While a dozen Democratic hopefuls have entered the U.S. Senate race and the race to be the lieutenant governor in the last year, until Wednesday, none had declared their ambition to become Pennsylvania’s next chief executive.

A view of Willow Park in Camp Hill. Pa. (VisitPa).

3. How a suburban Pa. school board race became a Trumpian battleground | Thursday Morning Coffee

The late U.S. House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill used to famously say that “all politics is local,” meaning that it was hard to impose a national framework on the often quirky world of local campaigns.

These days, thanks to the ubiquity of social media, cable news, and the rise of big money in politics that steers the conversation, the exact opposite appears to be true: Local campaigns have turned into microcosms of the arguments that we’re having at the national level.

Need proof? Look no further than an unsigned letter that landed in mailboxes across Camp Hill Borough, a picturesque community of some 7,911 people that’s a mile or two across the Susquehanna River from Harrisburg, last week (Full disclosure: I live in Camp Hill, and have a child in the local schools).

House Homeland Security Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Scott Perry makes opening remarks during a hearing on “critical canine contributions to the DHS mission’” in Washington, D.C., May 18, 2017. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Photo by Glenn Fawcett

4. Report sheds new light on Pa. lawmaker’s role in Trump’s pressure on Justice Dept. over election

newly released congressional report on efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to pressure the U.S. Dept. of Justice and overturn the 2020 election prominently highlights a Pennsylvania lawmaker who is a close Trump ally, and who was in the vanguard of lawmakers who objected to certifying President Joe Biden’s victory last November.

The report by the majority-Democrat U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is the end result of an eight-month-long investigation into the events that finally ended with the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol, where pro-Trump extremists attempted to disrupt the legally mandated certification process.

5. Philly Councilmember Curtis Jones urges citizens to call out ‘red flag’ behavior

City Councilmember Curtis Jones Jr. took the floor during this week’s virtual City Council meeting to urge people to speak up if someone they know is going through a mental health crisis.

Jones’ remarks come in the aftermath of Monday’s Thomas Jefferson University Hospital shooting, which left one man dead and two Philadelphia police officers wounded.

“Last week, we all looked in horror as an individual entered Jefferson Hospital and took the life of another worker there,” Jones said. “We have to fight and continue to fight against gun violence.”

According to Jones, the man who allegedly committed the shootings last week had his weapons taken away from him after an apparent mental health crisis. But then he got them right back.

And that’s the week. See you back here next weekend. 

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared. Follow her on Twitter: @Wordsby_CassieM.

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