Rabbi Stacy Rigler

Dear Chairman Nordenberg and the LRC, My name is Rabbi Stacy Rigler. I am a member of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s Pennsylvania Leadership team and Executive Director of the Association of Reform Jewish Educators. I have spent my career here in Pennsylvania teaching children about the power of their voices and their potential to make a difference. In recent years I have learned that the children I serve, predominantly affluent and white, have an increased voice in our state and that those in neighboring school districts, especially black and brown children, have less of a voice and less of an ability to be fully represented in the PA legislature. I worked for 18 years in Elkins Park, PA a first rung suburb in Montgomery County and now live in Delaware County in Bryn Mawr. Several years ago I took a group of students to Alabama to learn about the history of racial injustice and voting rights, we walked across the Edmund Petus Bridget together, and then together we learned about our own gerrymandering, the history of white power in Pennsylvania and the shocking funding situation of our schools here in PA. For these reasons and more it is my obligation as a religious leader to stand up for my neighbors and to ensure everyone has a fair and equal voice. As a leader in the Pennsylvania Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, I represent 40 synagogues comprising about 40,000 souls, and Jewish communities across the commonwealth uniting to advocate for fair and racially equitable legislative maps. Jewish sacred legal text teaches “a ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted.” Our faith calls us to advocate for 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 minority voters more representation than in years past. We are paying close attention to the final map release and trust that you will follow through with your commitment to creating minority opportunity districts and to taking community comments into account. We urge you not to give in to partisan pressure to backslide on the improvements to ending partisan gerrymandering and creating opportunity districts in the House and to make necessary changes to Senate and certain House districts. My feedback based on the neighborhoods I spend time is is as follows: Philadelphia: Despite explicit feedback from many citizens, including our partners at PA Voice, the Senate maps do little to provide fair representation for Latinos. In Philadelphia, the Latino community is split among four districts, whereas the People’s Maps (created by FDPA and endorsed by us) created an opportunity district in this area. As the Latino population in the commonwealth has grown exponentially, we are yet to see a Latino State Senator. We urge you to correct this injustice that has prevailed for too long by creating an additional majority minority district in Philadelphia. Delaware County The LRC House of Representatives map for Delaware County does a poor job keeping school districts intact. More than half of the county's districts are split; in some cases, they are split three ways. It also splits all four of the county's most under-resourced school districts. The financial disparity in Delaware County schools is upsetting and devestating. As parents in the Radnor school district, it breaks my heart to know how inequitable it is, and we need legislators fighting for change. We urge you to revisit the Delaware County maps and work toward keeping communities intact by uniting the school districts and making it easier for under-resourced Senate: PA’s population has shifted significantly over the last ten years, declining in rural/western communities, and growing in more central and eastern cities. The LRC’s Senate map does not adequately represent these shifts. In Southwest and Central PA, the map draws many districts with populations significantly below what might be expected, while in Southeast PA, several districts are drawn with populations larger than one would expect. This means that individual voters in Southeast PA have less clout. The standard deviation percentages are horrible, seeming to favor rural areas and almost erasing any changes that should have taken place due to the reallocation of prisoners that was voted on earlier last year. The Senate map distributes the population inequitably, penalizing urban residents and minority communities. We urge you to correct this malapportionment and vote dilution by creating more districts in Southeastern PA. Thank you for your work, for the equity you have brought to this process, and for considering that we can still do more, and can not be limited by existing visions but can truly create an equal voice for all Pennsylvanians, Sincerely, Rabbi Stacy RIgler