Comments on state legislative redistricting maps

Our names are Norma and Martin Beckerman. We have lived in Berks County over fifty years, and in Exeter Township since 1983. I am a retired English teacher in the Reading School District, and my husband is a retired accounting manager at the University of Sciences in Philadelphia. We are affiliated with Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom in Wyomissing, which gave us the opportunity to participate in the Pennsylvania Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Based on both our religious and our American heritage, we are dedicated to achieving fair and racially equitable legislative maps. Therefore, we are giving testimony with other Reform Jews across Pennsylvania in the hope that the Legislative Reapportionment Commission adheres to the principles of the People’s Maps released by Fair Districts and the Unity Maps created by PA Voice. These maps are based on respecting equitable racial representation, keeping communities together, creating compact maps, and especially, eliminating partisan biases. They incorporate Unity Maps created by communities of color, mapping their own lives and communities. Over 1,000 citizens, including members of RAC-PA, were part of creating and advocating for the People’s Maps. The maps can be viewed at The People’s Maps/Fair Districts PA. As members of a group that found refuge in the USA and that thrived by having a voice in American democracy, we are particularly sensitive to the opportunities for others. The populations of people of color across Pennsylvania have increased, but representation for these groups has not kept pace. Pennsylvania has never had a Hispanic senator and has only four Hispanic representatives, even though the Latino community has had the fastest growth of all the communities of color. Some smaller cities are so splintered that the citizens are unable to elect officials who reflect their communities and share specific concerns. Only four of Pennsylvania’s 50 state senators are black, all from Philadelphia. Long overdue, the people of color deserve equitable representation in the General Assembly. Our democracy is under siege, and supporting the People’s Maps is a good start to restoring the ideals upon which the United States was built. Respectfully submitted, Norma L. Beckerman Martin B. Beckerman