The Chairman to Chairman Cycling Challenge
To Support Fair Redistricting
October 28-29th, 2017
Starting in Everett, PA
Ending in Cranberry, PA and Lebanon, PA
My name is Jim Highland and I am organizing a cycling event for the last weekend of October. The Challenge is meant to help move legislation forward to make the redistricting of PA's voting districts more fair and transparent, and more representative of the people by having an eleven-member, non-politician panel coordinate redistricting, so that voters once again choose their politicians, instead of politicians choosing their voters.
LOGISTICS: I am asking if you, and any of the cyclists you know in PA, would participate in the Chairman to Chairman Cycling Challenge, on the weekend of October 28-29th The distance is roughly 280 miles. The Challenge will begin at a half-way point between the route that links the offices of each of the Chairmen, with one team heading West and one heading East, each covering about 140 miles. After talking with Paul Mathison, co-founder of Fair Districts PA, and the man who, in 2011, ran over 1000 miles around the state of Pennsylvania to promote fair redistricting, I've worked out a route that is good for cyclists, and has a starting point in Everett, PA (near Breezewood) Cyclists from the Western part of the state (Team West) will head west and north, to Greensburg on Saturday, Oct. 28th, and on Sunday, Oct. 29th to Cranberry, PA (Rep. Metcalfe's home office). Cyclists from the Eastern part of the state (Team East) will head East, to Gettysburg on Saturday, Oct. 28th, and on Sunday, Oct. 29th to Lebanon (Rep. Folmer's home office). Each "team" will cover roughly 140 miles total; so that should be very do-able in two days, Saturday and Sunday, ending at either Metcalfe's or Folmer's office. We will make local and state media aware of the Challenge and coordinate with members of Fair Districts PA who live in the vicinity of the route, for supplies and support vehicles.
The nonpartisan, nonProfit, Fair Districts PA (FDPA), began in 2016 and helped introduce legislation to change the PA Constitution to eliminate the current five-member panel of party leaders, that currently carves up new districts every ten years, and instead, create an eleven-member panel of Pennsylvanians who are not elected officials, nor closely related to current politicians. FDPA has held talks throughout the state to inform people about the new technologies of data-mining and precision-mapping that have allowed party leaders to create voting districts that keep them safe, locking out other people. The districts are designed to favor one party or the other, instead of creating districts that allow politicians to more easily communicate with and represent their constituents' needs. They also discourage politicians from voting their conscience, and encourage loyalty to the top party bosses. Bills have been co-sponsored by almost half of the state representatives (both parties), but two chairmen are keeping them locked up in committees, so we cannot have debate or votes on them, even though they have a lot of support.
As members of FDPA have shown, even though Pennsylvanians cast roughly the same number of Democrat as Republican votes (we ARE a swing state), the way the lines are drawn can give us 5 Democrats and 13 Republicans in the US House of Representatives, or drawn another way, 5 Republicans and 13 Democrats. Why allow a five person panel to do that to us, decade after decade? Why discourage politicians from working across party lines? Why not have a non-partisan panel that also includes people outside the two major parties, and specifically keeps out politicians and their families? California was successful in doing this after a long struggle, led in part by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was tired of hearing politicians tell him that something was a “good idea” but that they just couldn't vote for it because of party bosses. You can find out more at https://www.fairdistrictspa.com/ and by googling these issues on Youtube and Facebook.
Thank you for supporting a fair, transparent redistricting process in Pennsylvania!
FDPA, Mercer County Local Group