A plan to redraw state House and Senate lines was approved by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission Monday with a 4-1 vote.
The new maps outline 50 Senate districts and 203 House districts for the 2013 session. As expected, Somerset County lost longtime Democratic state Sen. Richard Kasunic on the final map.
The House map was adjusted from what was originally released at the end of October.
State Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar, R-Allegheny Township, was able to have Stonycreek and Milford townships returned to his district, which has shifted further into Bedford County.
"I'm happy to have Stonycreek and Milford townships back," he said. "It took a lot of effort just to achieve that."
Metzgar said he wishes he could've done more to retain more of his district that went to state Reps. Frank Burns and Mike Reese.
"Everyone in Somerset County is still always welcome at my Somerset district office, which will remain at its current location and provide the same great service," he said.
The panel's approval is all that is required for the changes to take effect, although the plan could still be appealed to the state Supreme Court. Metzgar said House members were not given a chance to offer input on the new districts.
"We were very much in the dark and at the mercy of leadership," he said.
Metzgar said he will work closely with Reese, a Republican who will be adding parts of Somerset County to his Westmoreland County district.
"I'll make sure I introduce him to everybody and we'll work together the best we can with the hand we're dealt," Metzgar said.
Burns, D-East Taylor Township, is gaining Jennerstown Borough and all of Jenner Township. He lost some areas in Cambria County and gained areas in Indiana and Westmoreland counties. Burns said he offered input on how to make his district better for residents after the preliminary map was released.
"In my opinion, I made my district better," he said. "I'll be representing people better. These are people I can relate to: hardworking people not looking for government handouts, just looking for opportunities."
Burns said he looks forward to meeting his new constituents.
"It doesn't come down to politics," he said. "It is where people live and where my offices are located."
Burns said everyone is welcome at his district offices.
"It is our job to represent the people," he said. "If they feel more comfortable coming into my office, then we want to work for them."
New to Somerset County on the House side is Reese. Reese said it is exciting to be adding parts of Somerset County to his district.
"Obviously I have got to get down there and introduce myself and hear what some of the local government concerns are," he said.
Reese has had conversations with Metzgar about the transition and meeting officials in his new areas.
"I think it is going to be a great opportunity and I am really looking forward to it," he said.
Reese said that once he is allowed to have an office in the area he is planning to have a joint office with Sen. Kim Ward, a Republican from Westmoreland County who will be representing part of Somerset County.
"No doubt we'll have a very strong presence," he said. "We are working with Rep. Metzgar on that."
The approved Senate map is the same as a revised map released last week. Replacing Kasunic are Ward and Don White, a Republican from Indiana County. Democrat John Wozniak has four municipalities in Somerset County.
Joe Pittman, chief of staff for White, said the senator is excited at the prospect of getting to know Somerset County and representing the entire county, not just the portion in his district. Pittman said that White feels the process was done in an open manner that allowed for comment.
"It seems that there were changes made in response to those comments," he said. "It seemed to be a very open process."
Ward said she is happy to pick up Somerset County.
"I think the process, for the most part, was driven by the population shifts," she said. "We had to move east. I'm very fortunate that by moving east I pick up Somerset County, which I love."
Ward said Somerset County is similar to the rest of her district.
"I look forward to starting new relationships and having an opportunity to serve that area," she said.
A spokesman for Kasunic declined additional comment on the maps, which, he noted, were very similar to earlier versions.
According to The Associated Press, the dissenting vote was cast by Senate Democratic leader Jay Costa, whose alternative Senate plan was rejected on a 3-2 party-line vote. The new maps were in response to a population shift to the eastern part of the state revealed in the 2010 census. In mid-January candidates will be allowed to start circulating nomination petitions.
Sen. John Wozniak
Shade Township and Central City, Paint and Windber boroughs.
Sen. Kim Ward
Addison, Black, Jefferson, Lower Turkeyfoot, Middlecreek, Milford, Somerset and Upper Turkeyfoot townships and Addison, Casselman, Confluence, New Centerville, Rockwood, Seven Springs, Somerset and Ursina boroughs
Sen. Don White
Allegheny, Brothersvalley, Conemaugh, Elk Lick, Fairhope, Greenville, Jenner, Larimer, Lincoln, Northampton, Ogle, Paint, Quemahoning, Southampton, Stonycreek and Summit townships and Benson, Berlin, Boswell, Callimont, Garrett, Hooversville, Indian Lake, Jennerstown, Meyersdale, New Baltimore, Salisbury, Shanksville, Stoystown and Wellersburg boroughs
Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar
Allegheny, Black, Brothersvalley, Elk Lick, Fairhope, Greenville, Larimer, Lincoln, Milford, Northampton, Somerset, Southampton, Stonycreek and Summit townships and Berlin, Callimont, Casselman, Garrett, Indian Lake, Meyersdale, New Baltimore, New Centerville, Rockwood, Salisbury, Shanksville, Somerset and Wellersburg boroughs
Rep. Frank Burns
Conemaugh, Jenner, Ogle, Paint, Quemahoning and Shade townships and Benson, Boswell, Central City, Hooversville, Jennerstown, Paint, Stoystown and Windber boroughs
Rep. Mike Reese
Addison, Jefferson, Lower Turkeyfoot, Middlecreek and Upper Turkeyfoot townships and Addison, Confluence, Seven Springs and Ursina boroughs