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Posts Tagged → redistricting

Patriot News publishes op-ed by First



With the creation of the new state Senate seat in Dauphin County, presently held by Jeff Piccola but soon to take on a new shape, citizens of Pennsylvania’s capital city and the Republican Party have just been handed a defeat.

Harrisburg might be the capital of Pennsylvania. The city might be a significant part of Dauphin County, with which the city shares many business, tax, cultural and infrastructure relationships. City residents’ personal lives will be strongly influenced by the new state Senate seat that lies just across Vaughn Street in uptown Harrisburg. Yet despite these multiple bonds of steel, Harrisburg citizens are now cut off from that new district and have no voice in an elected position next door that is otherwise going to be a huge part of their lives.

The boundaries of this new district might be a problem simply for the artificially bifurcated relationship between the county and the city alone. But what is really irksome is that uptown Harrisburg is a demographically rich, heavily Republican area. In other words, it’s safe for Republicans.

The 14th Ward, specifically, is the most Republican precinct in the city, and it is home to many gay Republicans, lesbian Republicans, black Republicans and the largest group of Jewish Republicans between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

I know this because as a conservative Republican activist, I routinely collect ballot signatures for Republican candidates in this ward and am on a first-name basis with many of these neat people. On evening walks with my wife through uptown, I quietly mutter “Republican. Democrat. She’s Republican, and he’s a Democrat, Republican. Republican,” as we pass by each house.

Had the new Senate district included this area, then any or all of these Republicans could have been compelling candidates for the Senate position. Sadly, every one of them is now eliminated from consideration for the new seat, a rare opening in a state where elected officials camp out in seats for what feels like a lifetime.

Including uptown Harrisburg in the new Senate district would have included enough of Harrisburg to give city citizens representation while easily protecting the Republican character of the new district and creating opportunity for greater diversity in the Republican Party. An opportunity has been missed, and who knows how many decades will pass before another one occurs. To those of us who toil in the trenches of the Republican Party, it’s a self-inflicted wound in the foot, easily avoided.

Josh First is a businessman living in Harrisburg.

Josh First begins campaign for State Senate

With Tuesday’s historic decision by the Supreme Court to overturn the recent redistricting, the former PA – 15th senate district remains intact.  That means that I am now back in a district from which senator Jeff Piccola is retiring, and for which I can run.

The Pennsylvania 15th Senate District is a beautiful place, really the heartland of America. It also includes Harrisburg, the state capital and one of the major Underground Railroad thruways, with one of the nation’s most majestic public edifices, the capitol building.
It is an honor to declare my candidacy for the 15th Senate District.
Please let me know if you can volunteer to circulate petitions, which are due by February 15th.

Email: info@joshfirst.com, or call 717 232-8335.

Thank you!


Josh First

Politics As Usual: Loyalty, Disloyalty, Etc.

Politics is the proverbial “sausage making” process, a series of steps that in the aggregate results in something recognizeable and useful, but as individual steps, it looks pretty gross because along the way you get to see what goes into it. It ain’t pretty.

And so it has been for yours truly, lately, one of the political sausage makers. Happy to help, happy to get messy, take risks, make sacrifices, work hard to see some people move up…focused on the outcome. But also expecting help cleaning up after the party.

Nothing bugs me more than disloyalty. Perhaps that expectation is an inverse result of my own fierce loyalty. Even kids know the importance of loyalty, and there’s nothing quite so frustrating as watching someone benefit from your own team spirit, risk taking, sacrifice, and commitment to the success of the group, and then waltz off at the end of the party without helping out.

Call me naive, but I do expect more from the adults who run our government.

Thanks, guys. Guys…?