New map shows Pennsylvania electing most diverse legislature ever

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (AP) — When cartographers rethought the boundaries of Pennsylvania’s 253 legislative branches, they looked to the state’s growing racial and ethnic minorities to I did.

The number of black, Latino, or South Asian legislators is the most diverse freshman in Pennsylvania history after running for election this year in a newly drawn district map. It is incremented as part of what we call the “class of

The Pennsylvania legislature, like nearly every other state, remains disproportionately white, according to data from the state legislative session, last collected in 2020.

But in Pennsylvania, the process of redrawing district lines to reflect demographics once every decade has had a greater impact on the diversity of the racial and ethnic makeup of Congress than anywhere else. could have given

“Having a fair map, I think, allowed us to express the will of the people more fairly,” said State Democratic Party Speaker Senator Sharif Street.

Good candidates are also important, Street said.

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The state’s newly elected minority legislators are all Democrats, further deepening the divide with candidates of color and Republicans, who are underrepresented in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

Rep. Donna Bullock, who heads the legislative black caucus, says there are now more black, Latino and Asian Americans in Congress than ever before. The caucuses, which include Latino or Asian-American lawmakers, have more members than ever before, up from 31 to 37, she said.

Even after two black legislators, Summer Lee and Austin Davis, moved into the upper echelons of office, the percentage of black legislators is slightly higher than the percentage of black residents in Pennsylvania, both at about 11%.

Black candidates have been particularly successful this year. Street became the first black chairman of the state party, Lee became Pennsylvania’s first black woman elected to Congress, and Davis became Pennsylvania’s first black lieutenant governor.

But the election was complicated for Latinos. Rapid population growth in Pennsylvania over the past decade and several new districts designed to boost their electoral power have not led to significant electoral results in Congress.

There, the number of Latinos will increase from 4 to 5, or just 2% in a state where Latinos make up 8% of Pennsylvania’s 13 million residents. 20 seats for proportional representation.

The last two maps of Congressional and Senate districts were Republican-friendly.

This time, Two particular aspects have driven the discussion: Growing general population and underrepresented Latino population in liberal-minded southeastern Pennsylvania.

According to the 2020 Census, Pennsylvania is just one of four states that would have seen a decline in population over the past decade, had it not been for the growth of the Hispanic population.

For another reason, cities with large Hispanic populations such as Reading and Lancaster were crammed into one House district.

The composition of the Senate remained unchanged after commentators said the senator had drawn a new map of districts that overprotected incumbents.

But on the House map, the chairman of the court-appointed Legislative Redistribution Committee, former Prime Minister Pitt Mark Nordenbergmoved districts across the state from low-growth areas to high-growth areas, added districts to cities with large Hispanic populations, and delineated seven unemployed districts representing relatively large populations of minorities.

Overall, minority candidates won new districts drawn into the cities of Philadelphia, Norristown, Reading, Lancaster, and Harrisburg, as well as suburban districts outside of Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, leading to Democrats. became friendly.

These victories also helped the Democrats wipe out the entrenched Republican House majorityIt won 102 of the 203 seats, its first majority since the 2008 election.

One of the winners, Greg Scott, who is black, said he wanted to create legislation to address failures he discovered as a district judge in Norristown, including reforming the bail system and funding drug abuse.

“This is the first time someone from our community has been represented in Congress,” Scott said, calling the step “incredibly important.”

Still, Latino candidates were less successful in four House districts and one Senate district that were drawn to boost the power of Latino voters. Each district had no incumbents running for re-election and each contained a sizeable Latino population.

In the end, only one Latino won. Johanie Cepeda Fretis is the Speaker of the City Council of Reading, who won a constituency that included portions of the Hispanic city.

Given what happened, it left advocates for the Latino community.

Janet Diaz, president of the state Democratic Party’s Latinx caucuses, accused local party organizations of not doing enough to recruit and support Latinx candidates.

Will Gonzalez, executive director of Ceiba, a Philadelphia nonprofit that advances the economic interests of the Latino community, took a long-term view.

The map wasn’t perfect, but at least he and other Latinx supporters had input into the process, Gonzalez said.

Moreover, the demographics are good. The Reading, Allentown, Lebanon, Hazleton, York and Bethlehem school districts have large numbers of Latinx students who will soon be of voting age.

The challenge, he said, is to improve civic engagement and voter literacy to ensure that the Cepeda-Freytiz election is not the last one for a Latino candidate.

“For me, it’s a matter of when it will be,” Gonzalez said. New map shows Pennsylvania electing most diverse legislature ever

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