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WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA Lawmakers pleased with redistricting



Published: Sat, September 29, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Some representatives regain areas lost in the 1990 reapportionment.

By HAROLD GWIN and LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR STATE STAFF

State Sen. Robert Robbins of Greenville, R-50th, said he isn't upset that his three-county district will now cover all or parts of four counties when state redistricting is finalized next year.

"Overall, I'm very pleased," he said, noting that he will still have all of Mercer and Crawford counties but will lose the portion of Erie County that he now represents.

Instead he will pick up a big chunk of Lawrence County and two townships in Butler County.

The demographics of the district will change very little, he said.

Few changes: Some legislators will hardly notice any change in the reapportionment.

Rep. Michael Gruitza of Hermitage, D-7th, whose district is confined to the Shenango Valley area of Mercer County, will lose one township but pick up another.

Rep. Rod Wilt of Greenville, R-17th, will see his district stretch out. It now includes much of Mercer County and a portion of southern Crawford County but will expand in Crawford and reach all the way south into northern Lawrence County.

"I'm not displeased at all," Wilt said, adding that he plans to open a district office in the New Wilmington area one day a week.

Rep. Dick Stevenson of Grove City, R-8th, will see his district consolidate somewhat, losing the section of Armstrong County he now represents but picking up more municipalities in Butler and Lawrence counties.

"It's going to be fine," he said, adding it will leave him with "a more concise district."

Gaining old ground: State representatives in Lawrence County say they also are pleased with the changes in their districts, regaining areas they once represented before reapportionment in 1990.

Rep. Chris Sainato of New Castle, D-9th, said he's keeping 95 percent of his district and adding a few communities in western Lawrence County and Beaver County. Those communities were previously in the 10th legislative district.

Sainato said his new communities will blend into what he already represents. "We're not picking up in an area that's totally different. I'm already in tune with what the issues are," he said.

Rep. Frank LaGrotta of Ellwood City, D-10th, is losing a few communities to Sainato, but he's also adding some communities in Beaver County. He could not be reached for comment.

Sen. Gerald LaValle of Rochester, D-47th, picked up Shenango Township from Sen. Mary Jo White of Franklin, R-21st, who won't represent any communities in Lawrence County after reapportionment.

"Prior to the last reapportionment, Shenango Township was in his district; now he's got it back," said Tony Rigano, LaValle's chief of staff. "It's a good area. It's a growing area. He's very pleased with the district."




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