Upper Providence Township officials are shepherding through a redistricting process that is highly problematic with respect to overall disruption across the Township, partisan gerrymandering that strongly favors sitting Council members who are running for election in 2023, lack of transparency and active public involvement, and a blatant conflict of interest in allowing a sitting Council member who is running for re-election, to develop the initial redistricting plan in complete isolation. Read on to learn more...
OVERVIEW Upper Providence Township (UPT) Council plans to redistrict UPT, for the first time in 30+ years, just ahead of the 2023 UPT Council elections. Two Council members who are leading the charge for this effort happen to be up for re-election in 2023. Council's rationale for redistricting is that currently 16% of Township residents reside in the 4th District and the goal is to have ~20% of voters in each voting district (+/- 1-2%). So, perhaps some minor adjustments to balance the population across the districts is warranted, but certainly not to the extent that has been proposed in 4 out of the 5 plans Council has put forward!
Background on Redistricting Proposal Development Timeline and Process:
At the August 16 Council meeting, 2nd District UPT Councilman Kevin Else, put forth a single redistricting proposal, which he prepared himself, in isolation, with zero public input. Alone, Mr. Else determined the guiding rules for the analysis, the methodology, the redistricting priorities, and ran the analysis. Some residents in the audience expressed their concern that there was no opportunity for public review of the plan, and dismay that the public was not given the opportunity to weigh in on the methodology and guiding principles before the initial plan was even developed. Council tabled the discussion to allow for public review of Mr. Else's plan. The proposal was subsequently placed on the Township website as the "2022 UPT REDISTRICTING REPORT" with Mr. Else listed as the sole author. (Link: Upper Providence Township 2020 Redistricting)
At the September 8th Council meeting, members of the public again expressed concerns about the lack of transparency in the process, the substantial disruption called for in Mr. Else's plan, and outrage over the optics of a sitting Council member (who is up for re-election), exclusively drawing not only his own voting district (in his favor) but also the district of the Council chair (who is also up for re-election).
One resident also inquired about 2 additional plans they were aware of that were submitted by a Township resident and asked why those plans were not shared on the UPT website for public consideration - why was Mr. Else's plan posted as the exclusive, and seemingly, endorsed plan? With these additional concerns and issues raised, Council said they would reconsider their approach and reach out to Delaware County for assistance in creating additional plans for consideration. (Link to Sept 8 Council Meeting Minutes)
Afterward, the Township claims to have reached out to the County for assistance in evaluating Mr. Else's plan and for help with creating some additional options for Township residents to consider. Meanwhile, at the September 22 Township Council meeting, Mr. Else noted that he had revised his initial submission because he was made aware that his original plan would move another Council member to a new district (this, despite the fact that redistricting efforts are supposed to be agnostic of individual addresses and/or incumbent place of residence)
On October 5th, Council placed 5 proposals on the Township website, with language leading people to believe that all of the plans were developed by the County, when this is just not the case. In reality, "Option 2" is identical to Mr. Else's original proposal and Plans 1, 4, and 5, are essentially very small tweaks of Mr. Else's original proposal and have since been confirmed to have been developed by the Township. Mr. Else is evenn on record at the 9/22 Council meeting saying that he revised his original plan. "Option 3" is one of the two initial plans submitted by a Township resident.
Two additional plans submitted by Township residents have never been shared on the Township website for residents to review, despite the fact that both plans achieve the desired population distribution and disrupt less than 400 residents.
An analysis of UPT Council’s proposals shows several glaring issues and concerns that must be addressed. Details on these issues are provided on the pages that follow (see links for "Disruption", "Gerrymandering", "Transparency" and "Conflict of Interest" at the top of this page) and ways you can get involved are provided on the last page of this website, "Get Involved".
To be clear: this site is focused on Upper Providence Township Council efforts to redraw the Upper Providence Township voting districts (1st through 5th), and is unrelated to any other redistricting efforts, including those that changed our State House District.