Ohio to begin retooled redistricting process

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 9:43 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Ohio’s redistricting commission will convene for its first meeting on Friday as it begins a redesigned process that’s meant to cut down on gerrymandering.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the new group will meet Friday at 9 a.m. to start laying out the next state legislature maps. It’s a result of constitutional amendments passed by voters in 2015 and 2018 to try and make the state’s maps fair.

The seven-member commission includes DeWine, Auditor of State Keith Faber and Secretary of State Frank LaRose. The leaders of both parties in the House and Senate each get to appoint a member to the commission to round out the group.

Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) announced the first appointment on Monday, Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron). He will end up being one of two Democrats in the group whose decision on whether or not to approve the maps the commission develops will determine when the process will happen next.

If all of the Republicans but none of the Democrats on the commission end up approving the maps, they will only be valid for four years. But if both Democrats join at least two of the group’s Republican members with a proposal, the maps will last for ten years.

A final agreement must be met by Sept. 1 for a ten-year map. Otherwise, the group can continue negotiating until Sept. 15 when it would have to settle with a four-year map.

The commission will meet for the first time before the planned Aug. 16 release of 2020 U.S. Census data that will help shape the map. The group is required to have at least three public meetings.

There are certain guidelines the group has to follow or attempt to follow when developing the General Assembly maps.

The legislature is tasked with drawing Ohio’s next congressional map, but the commission could take control if the legislature doesn’t agree on a proposal.

Marcy Gregory is paying close attention to the redrawing of Ohio’s congressional map.

She’s the D4 CWA Retired Member President & CWA-RMC 4319 president. Her representative in Congress used to share her first name.

Because of redistricting, Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) no longer represents Marcy Gregory in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I just think it’s ridiculous,” Gregory said, who is now represented by Republican Bob Latta.

Gregory, a Democrat, said it’s been harder to work on labor-related and other issues with her current representative.

“We always had Marcy as a representative. As a union officer, that made me really happy because I’m a strong Democrat,” Gregory said.

Kaptur, the longest-serving woman in Congress, has seen her district evolve over the years into a district that is frequently used as an example of gerrymandering. It’s often dubbed the Snake on the Lake district because how it stretches from Toledo to Cleveland.

She hopes the new districts will focus more on keeping communities intact rather than be designed around political affiliations.

That’s also the case for Michelle Radkin, who also lives in Latta’s district that carves out its northeastern boundary around neighborhoods in Toledo. It goes as far East as Ottawa County, stretches West to the state’s border and extends South to include Mercer, Hardin and Wyandot counties.

“I’d like to see some fair districts and districts that are not spread out across the state or gerrymandered all around,” Radkin said.

Changes to this year’s redistricting process are meant to get rid of gerrymandered districts, something Michelle hopes happens.

“Political parties shouldn’t be able to draw lines to grab their districts, Democrats or Republicans,” Radkin said. “It should be fair and representative of the communities they serve.”

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