Keep Bethlehem in 18th District, Allentown in 16th

I write to comment on the Preliminary Plan for State Senate districts, and to ask that the Cities of Bethlehem and Allentown not be divided. The preliminary plan proposed December 16 includes three State Senate districts for the Lehigh Valley -- the 18th, the 16th and parts of the 14th district which is new to the Lehigh Valley. • The preliminary plan divides the City of Bethlehem into two Senate districts (the 18th and the 14th). • The preliminary plan divides the City of Allentown into two Senate districts (the 16th and the 14th). The Pennsylvania Constitution (Article 2, Section 16) includes the provision that “Unless absolutely necessary no county, city, incorporated town, borough, township or ward shall be divided in forming either a senatorial or representative district.” For decades, the City of Bethlehem has been in a single Senate district (the 18th) and the City of Allentown has been in a single Senate district (the 16th). The population of the Lehigh Valley is large enough so that the Lehigh Valley will have more than two State Senate Districts, but it is not necessary to divide the Lehigh Valley’s two largest cities. Bethlehem (population 75,961) and Allentown (population 121,252) have historically been kept whole in a Senate district (the 18th District and the 16th District, respectively), and each city should absolutely not be divided in the 2022 redistricting. Bethlehem should remain whole in the 18th District, and Allentown should remain whole in the 16th District. A Senate map that does not divide the cities of Bethlehem and Allentown keeps faith with the provisions of our state Constitution, and will provide the best possible representation for these two dynamic cities. Thank you for your consideration.