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REDISTRICTING Officials say GOP is in charge



Published: Wed, November 21, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Trumbull County is unlikely to get its own congressional district, officials say.

By STEPHEN SIFF

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- State legislators gave local officials a wake-up call from their dream of a U.S. congressional district incorporating all of Trumbull County, given the Republican dominance of state politics.

"They are not going to take all of Trumbull County and put it in [U.S. Rep. Steven C.] LaTourette's district, because then they would have a Democratic district," said Sen. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-32nd. "They are just not going to let that happen."

Here's reality: At a meeting in the county administration building Tuesday, Ryan and two other area legislators explained the political reality of redistricting: Republicans in charge of the state Senate, House and governor's mansion are going to redraw the state's U.S. Congressional district lines to create more Republican districts, not Democratic ones.

"Republicans have the votes that any redistricting plan they develop will be approved," said Sen. Bob Hagan of Youngstown, D-33rd. "They do not need any Democratic input to develop the plan, put it on the table, and pass it."

Ohio will lose one of its 19 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives because census figures show the state's population has declined.

State Republicans will inevitably choose to eliminate a district that elects Democratic congressmen, officials say.

District maps will then have to be redrawn to equalize the population within the remaining congressional districts, Hagan said. Trumbull County may well be split up -- it is already split to some degree, with the western portion in the district of Sherrod Brown of Lorain, D-13th.

But Trumbull County is unlikely to be moved mostly intact to another district, because its heavily Democratic voters could create another predominately Democratic congressional district -- the last thing Republican lawmakers want to do, he said.

Unlikely scenario: Local officials have promoted the idea of splitting Trumbull County away from the district of James A. Traficant Jr., D-17th, which includes Mahoning and portions of Columbiana counties, in part because they reasoned that Warren could become the largest city in the new district. That is unlikely to happen, said Rep. Daniel Sferra of Warren, D-66th, the city's former mayor.

"There is no guarantee that if we split up Trumbull County, we would get our own congressman," he said.

A more likely scenario would be that the county could be split three, or even four ways. Even the city of Warren might get split between districts, Ryan said.

The effect of this might be to dilute the attention given to the city by any of the congressmen, Hagan said. Or it could be good for the city, said Mayor Hank Angelo.

"Nobody can tell me that having more people to speak on our behalf won't help us," Angelo said.




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