McCandless neighborhoods will be redistributed due to population changes

McCandless Township’s population has barely changed since the 2010 census, with the greatest growth in senior housing developments.

The city held a public hearing on August 22 regarding municipal redistribution, as required by state law. The process looks at changing demographics and helps balance voting wards, according to RJ Susko, director of planning and development, who introduced the plan.

The process was studied by Susko, city staff and a 2022 redistribution committee.

With minor population growth, ward boundary revisions would be mild.

“The city’s population has remained very stable since 1990,” she said. “Our goal in allocating wards is to balance the number of residents the council is tasked to represent.”

Some demographic developments and changes have occurred since the 2010 census, according to the committee’s report. And there are no major real estate developments “in the hopper” to prepare for a major population shift in the next 10 years.

McCandless has seven wards, which cannot change unless the city charter is amended.

The current population of the township is approximately 29,700, which equates to approximately 4,250 residents in each of McCandless’s seven wards. This figure is slightly higher than the approximate total of 28,700 and 4,100 per neighborhood in 2010.

Neighborhoods must be nearly equal in population and are not based on political or demographic data. Susko said wards are not the same as electoral districts, but Allegheny County tries to match electoral districts to wards where possible.

The city can ask Allegheny County to realign the electoral district, to better match the neighborhoods.

Beginning in January 2022, Susko and the committee matched each census block in the 2020 census to ward boundaries. He referred to the 2010 ward boundary map for comparison and guidance.

In the spring, the council also named local Democratic and Republican political committee heads and McCandless Council Chairman Michael Tarle to help create a draft map.

If no changes are needed, the draft could be passed Sept. 26 and used for the 2023 primaries. The 2022 election would not be affected, Susko said.

There have been some demographic shifts, particularly in seniors’ residences since 2010, and a “decent number of empty nests,” she said.

One of the main goals of the city charter is to keep neighborhoods “compact and contiguous”.

Ward 1 must lose population. Ward 2 is the ideal number. But it can help move excess population from Ward 1 to Ward 3 by moving the boundaries on either side.

Officials use geographic separators such as roads to facilitate the process.

Residents can review these and other proposed minor changes at www.townofmccandless.org, Susko said.

Paul Heckman of Abbey Lane, was a member of the committee and said Susko had made it “a remarkable experience”.

“She did a very good process, very thorough, very well done. When we sat down to do this, it was a pleasure to sit on the commission to do this,” he said.

Marcia Caliendo of Abbey Lane, also a member of the committee, said she believed there was more disparity in the electoral constituencies, which is controlled by the county board of elections. She suggested the city have Allegheny County investigate this.

Natalie Beneviat is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.