Amidst the ongoing possibility that Haverford Township could be split into two districts, Rep. Nick Micozzie's name is a popular one.
If the preliminary plans presented to the state by the Legislative Reapportionment Committee pass, the Republican state representative's 163rd district would include Wards One and Nine of Haverford Township. Currently, the township remains intact as part of the 166th District represented by State Rep. Greg Vitali (D).
While Vitali and the Haverford Township Board of Commissioners oppose breaking apart the township – a resolution adopted by the board will be read at Friday's public hearing in Harrisburg – the chance that residents of the First and Ninth wards will have to get to know a new representative still exists.
Ward Nine Commissioner Bill Wechsler told the Haverford-Havertown Patch one of his primary concerns about splitting the township is that a new representative won't know the area as well.
"It's harder for a citizen to know who a new state rep is," Vitali told Neighbors. "It's also better for legislators. When I deal with Marple, I make decisions based on my part of Marple, not necessarily the township as a whole. It's not as holistic as Haverford. There's less awareness of township problems if you just have pieces of a township."
Marple Township is split amongst the 161st, 165th and 166th districts, so Vitali is no stranger to sharing a district with other representatives – and neither is Micozzie.
Micozzie, a state rep for 33 years, also isn't completely unfamiliar with Havertown, where he lived briefly with his parents and wife after returning from the U.S. Air Force. His parents still reside in Havertown, where he played football as a kid near Manoa Shopping Center, he said.
Though Micozzie acknowledged he will open a township office in Haverford Township if the township becomes a part of his district, he said representing a divided area won't hurt the area's chances of getting grants from the state, a concern Wechsler expressed at a public meeting Nov. 9.
"When there are grants provided, I can get them," Micozzie said, citing his work in Ridley and Upper Darby townships, two divvied areas he represents. "I've been around awhile."
Redistricting is based on population census data to maintain equal representation. It occurs every 10 years, and Vitali, a member of the House since 1993, said politics often get in the way.
"I believe based on numerous conversations that they're trying to have a safe Republican seat," Vitali said, referencing John Nickels, the chairman of the Upper Darby Republican Party.
Micozzie negated the allegations, saying, "I really don't need Havertown to win (reelection)."
Regardless of the impetus behind the preliminary plan to split Haverford Township, Vitali said the matter can be avoided.
"You can't split a municipality unless absolutely necessary," Vitali said. "It doesn't have to be done."