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VALLEY POLITICS Boccieri's deadline looms to decide a home district



Published: Wed, September 26, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Boccieri said he was targeted after he ousted a three-term GOP legislator.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- State Rep. John Boccieri has some serious thinking to do during the next few weeks.

A state redistricting plan expected to be adopted Oct. 5 by the Ohio Apportionment Board has Boccieri's hometown of New Middletown relocated to a House district represented by Sylvester D. Patton Jr. of Youngstown.

Boccieri, D-57th, said he is definitely running for a seat in the Legislature next year.

But which one? Boccieri said he has four options:

UStay in that district and run against Patton next year, which is the least likely option.

UMove about 10 miles to a newly-created district that includes several communities he currently represents, which is the most likely option.

UMove to Columbiana County and challenge state Rep. Charles Blasdel of East Liverpool, R-3rd.

URun for state Senate if Sen. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-33rd, decides to run next year for Congress.

"I'm prepared to go into battle," said Boccieri, an Air Force reservist who served during the Persian Gulf War. "I've been cut out of my home district. My family's been uprooted so many times with the military. I want to look at all the options."

Why this is urgent: But Boccieri admits he does not have much time to make a decision. If he is going to run for a House seat in the new district or against Blasdel, he has to move by Nov. 5, a year from 2002's Election Day.

State law says a person cannot run for a seat in a House district unless he has residency there for at least one year.

The Republican-controlled Apportionment Board released its House and Senate maps Monday and plans to adopt the proposal next week.

What's behind this: Every 10 years, the Apportionment Board is required to redraw House and Senate maps reflecting population shifts based on census numbers.

Boccieri, who pulled an upset win over a three-term Republican legislator in one of the most well-funded House campaigns last year, said he has been a GOP target since that victory.

"Clearly this was done to cause me grief," he said. "They owed me one and I got it. I got the wallop. It's clearly political. We have the Mahoning Valley getting a sucker punch."

Patton said Boccieri was specifically targeted after he defeated then-state Rep. Ron Hood.

"There's no question about that," Patton said. "The Republicans were saying it before the session started. His victory was a big coup, and an embarrassment to the Republican Party. It's payback. We knew he'd be without a district."

Under the plan, the newly-created district keeps portions of Boccieri's current district -- including Beaver, Green, Smith, Goshen townships, Sebring, Beloit, Canfield city, portions of Canfield Township and Washingtonville in Mahoning County as well as Carroll County and the eastern portion of Stark County.

Also to be added to that district is the eastern portion of Tuscarawas County.

There is no sitting legislator living in any of those communities, so the seat is essentially an open one.

"This is a crazy district," Boccieri said because whoever sits there would represent small portions of three counties and Carroll County.

Redistribution: The portion of Boccieri's district that would go to Patton's district under the Apportionment Board plan are Springfield Township, Coitsville and New Middletown.

Patton's district would also picked up Youngstown's 4th Ward and Poland Township from the district represented by Kenneth A. Carano of Austintown, D-65th.

Under the plan, the portions of Boccieri's district that would go to Carano's district are Jackson, Milton, Ellsworth and Berlin townships.

skolnick@vindy.com




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