Thanks and concern Allentown proposed Senate maps

Dear Chairman Nordenberg and the Legislative Reapportionment Committee, My name is Maryann Snyder. I have lived in Pennsylvania my entire life, growing up in Lancaster County, working as a school counselor and raising a family in Dauphin County, and for the past twelve years residing in Lehigh County. I deeply love PA and would like it to be a true example of representative democracy and to rise above partisan politics and narrow interests. As a teacher and counselor I worked with families and students, of differing needs and circumstances, whose well being and futures were affected by decisions made at the state level. My experience, and my commitment to the ideal of representative democracy, motivate me to advocate for fair and equitable maps, whereby currently marginalized communities may have their voices heard and fuller civic engagement can be restored. I also write as a member of Congregation Keneseth Israel in Allentown, where I serve as chair of our social justice committee. Recently, our congregation joined the Pennsylvania Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC-PA) which represents Jewish communities across the commonwealth including a group of 40 synagogues comprising about 40,000 individuals. Together, we advocate on state-wide issues of justice. Jewish sacred legal text teaches that “a ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted.” Our faith calls us to advocate for fair and racially equitable legislative maps that will provide all Pennsylvanians, especially marginalized groups and racial minorities, with adequate representation. We would like to express our gratitude to the LRC for your hard work and your efforts to improve the redistricting process. Thank you for holding hearings and making the process more transparent than in years past. We are especially grateful for your consideration and attention to racial equity. It is heartening to see maps that reflect the growth in communities of color and give minoritized voters more representation. We urge you not to give in to partisan pressure to backslide on these improvements. We are paying close attention to the final map release, trusting that you will take community comments into account. We trust that you will follow through with your commitment to creating minority opportunity districts. We urge you as well to make further, necessary, changes to the Senate districts and to certain House districts. In particular, in the proposed Senate maps, Allentown is unnecessarily divided, minimizing the ability of that city’s growing Hispanic population to utilize its electoral power. We urge you to correct this injustice by keeping Allentown intact in a district drawn to maximize Latino participation in Lehigh County. Thank you for giving attention to these concerns. With gratitude, Maryann Snyder