Hellertown Borough Council members Monday asked for the public’s support for a resolution it has adopted opposing a state House redistricting plan that would move the borough from the 136th legislative district to the 131st legislative district.
Before reading the resolution aloud, borough council president Tom Rieger called the proposed map “gerrymandered” and “very horrible.” State Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-18), who represents the borough and much of Northampton County in the state Senate, has also blasted the plan and said she will sue to prevent it from taking effect if necessary.
“Surprisingly both parties agree that it’s horrible,” he said, while encouraging residents to contact their state representatives if they are unhappy with the proposed redistricting.
Hellertown is currently located in the southwest corner of the 136th legislative district, which encompasses much of southern and central Northampton County. The district is represented by Rep. Robert “Bob” Freeman (D), who has been its representative in Harrisburg for more than 20 years continuously, and more than 30 years in total.*
In a Borough of Hellertown Facebook post about council’s opposition to the proposed redistricting plan, officials said their opposition is partly geographical in nature, due to the fact that the majority of the 131st legislative district is located to the south and west of Hellertown in Lehigh and Montgomery counties.
That district is currently represented by Rep. Milou Mackenzie (R), who was elected to fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Justin Simmons (R) in 2020. Hellertown business owner Kevin Branco challenged Mackenzie and recently announced that he again intends to seek election to that seat, which could now be redistricted to include the borough.
Borough officials cited the following points in outlining their opposition to the plan:
- Hellertown has been located in the 136th District since the Pennsylvania Constitution was amended to create single-member state House districts more than 50 years ago.
- Hellertown has established relationships with other municipalities in the district, such as Freemansburg, with whom they have established a “community of interest.”
- Hellertown “has little if any association with” the communities that make up the 131st District and “would be at the extreme eastern fringe of the 131st District that barely penetrates into Northampton County.”
- Bob Freeman has maintained a connection to and active participation in the community life of Hellertown by attending various community events, securing grant funding for projects, hosting monthly office hours for constituents at Borough Hall and via other endeavors.
According to the borough’s Facebook post, any resident or business owner may comment on the proposed redistricting by sending comments to Chairman Mark Nordenberg, Legislative Reapportionment Commission, 209 Irvis Office Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120 or through the Legislative Reapportionment Commission website.
The Legislative Reapportionment Commission has scheduled a series of public hearings during which additional feedback from Pennsylvania citizens regarding the preliminary plan for State House legislative redistricting will be evaluated as part of the process.
View Monday night’s Hellertown Borough Council reorganization and business meetings below:
*Robert Freeman was first elected to the state House of Representatives from the 136th District in 1983 and served as its representative until 1994. After a five-year interregnum during which the district was represented by Joseph Corpora III, Freeman again won office in 1999 and has represented the district ever since.