If you're looking for a reason to care about congressional redistricting, which the Republican controlled Ohio General Assembly is expected to begin discussing this week, consider the following truth: The boundaries of the congressional districts that are established this year by the legislature will be in place for the next decade. Thus, if the Republican leadership in Columbus decides to put Mahoning and Trumbull counties in separate districts -- they are now in one, the 17th -- we in the Mahoning Valley will have to live with that split for at least 10 years.
And let there be no mistake, this region would pay a steep price for such a decision.
Pitch: That is why you, the thoughtful residents of the Valley, should care. It is also why our voices need to be heard in Columbus. Business and community leaders, officeholders and the citizenry must let Gov. Bob Taft, Senate President Richard Finan and House Speaker Larry Householder, all Republicans, know that Mahoning and Trumbull counties, and, if possible, Columbiana County, should be kept in one congressional district.
Because of the loss of population over the past decade, Ohio will give up one of its 19 congressional seats. And because the northeastern section of the state is where the loss was greatest, the Republicans have decided, as is the right of the party in control of both houses of the General Assembly and the governor's office, to eliminate a seat currently held by a Democrat.
It should come as no surprise that the makeup of the current 17th District, represented by Congressman James A. Traficant Jr., D-Poland, will change, but it is not necessary for the GOP leadership to go to the extreme of separating Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
Economic survival: As we've consistently argued over the last several months, the two counties have a great deal in common, and the region's economic survival has served as a rallying point for the area's diverse public and private organizations.
The fact is that Mahoning and Trumbull counties are one standard metropolitan statistical area, which provides the basis for bringing federal dollars to the region.
It is that message that must be heard in Columbus -- today.