When the first state redistricting maps were approved by lawmakers in 2011, Somerset County residents voiced their frustration because Sen. Rich Kasunic was drawn out of the county.
But the redrawn maps — giving the veteran senator all of the county — were ruled constitutional in Harrisburg Wednesday by a 4-1 vote.
Kasunic, D-Dunbar, said he is happy the new maps were approved.
“I certainly look forward to continuing my efforts working with the elected officials there, continuing to better the quality of life and standard of living for Somerset County,” he said.
The first maps were drawn in 2011 and ruled unconstitutional in 2012. New maps were introduced last year and again appealed to the Supreme Court.
Kasunic credits residents for coming together and voicing their concerns.
“I can’t thank the people of Somerset County enough, particularly those folks who wrote letters, those folks who took the bus trip down to Harrisburg to testify,” he said. “The outpouring of support by the constituency of Somerset County makes me proud to represent the people who obviously put their faith and trust in me 19 years ago.”
While the plan reduces the number of senators representing the county by shifting state Sen. John Wozniak’s district, it increases the number of representatives to four. State Rep. Frank Burns, D-East Taylor Township, was drawn out of the county. Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar, R-Allegheny Township, now shares the county with state Reps. Mike Reese, R-Mount Pleasant, Timothy Mahoney, D-Fayette, and Bryan Barbin, D-Johnstown.
Metzgar said he would have preferred to represent the entire county.
“The way I would draw the map is the same way I feel about my job now,” he said. “I lived in Somerset County my whole life. I represent all of Somerset County and nothing is changing no matter what politician or bureaucrat draws a line on a map.”
Metzgar, the only lawmaker in the state from Somerset County, said that anyone from the county is welcome to contact him if they have a concern.