State Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr. said the state's preliminary legislative redistricting plan passed Monday will be a big change for the people of Bedford County.
Under the plan approved 3-2 by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission, Eichelberger, a Republican, will no longer be representing Bedford County.
That part of his 30th Senatorial District will now be included in the 35th Senatorial District under Sen. John Wozniak, D-Johnstown.
"I'm certainly sad to see Bedford out of my district," Eichelberger said.
"I can't remember the last time the people of Bedford were represented by a Democrat."
It was actually 1882 when the last Democrat represented Bedford County in the state Senate. Sen. Frederick Grof served the 36th Senatorial District, which also included Fulton and Somerset counties, from 1880-82, according to a Wilkes University database.
Blair County was last represented by a Democrat in the state Senate in 1872 when Sen. Hiram Findley represented the 21st Senatorial District of Bedford, Blair, Fulton and Somerset counties.
"It will be OK for us, but it's going to be a major change," Bedford County Commissioner Gary Ebersole, a Democrat, said.
"Sen. Eichelberger has been one of the best senators Bedford County ever had. He's hard-working, young, energetic. ... We will miss him."
Wozniak will also make a great senator for Bedford County, Ebersole said.
"I know the senator. He really works for his people. He will give us a different viewpoint. He's a very good person, intellectual and honest person, just like Sen. Eichelberger."
Replacing Bedford County in his district is most of Perry County and about 20,000 people in Franklin County, Eichelberger said.
He said redistricting has been a major topic lately in the state Senate, and he said he has seen "about four versions." The plan that was passed with Bedford County removed from the 30th District was only a recent proposal, Eichelberger said.
Eichelberger said he has gotten to know and be involved with many people in Bedford County over the years.
Bedford County is part of the Southern Alleghenies Planning & Development Commission, an economic development group, an agency Eichelberger served on as a Blair County commissioner. Bedford and Blair counties are part of the same PennDOT district and are part of the Interstate 99 Development Corridor, he said.
On the other hand, Eichelberger said districts of other senators have been altered much more than his was. He called the changes in the 30th District "reasonable."