Local representation appears to be the main issue among residents.
By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
POLAND -- A congressional redistricting plan could split Poland township in two, and residents who spoke to The Vindicator on Tuesday were of only one mind-set -- very unhappy.
Residents said they have enjoyed having U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., himself a Poland resident, representing their interests in Washington.
It has been said that the new plan would split Poland, the only township to be divided in half, along state Route 170. The eastern part of the township would be represented by U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a Lucasville Democrat. The western part would be represented by U.S. Rep. Thomas Sawyer, an Akron Democrat.
Resident's opinion: Don Viano, a resident of the eastern part of the township, expressed his displeasure with the plan while drinking coffee in a local deli with friends. He said the main issue will be the loss of representation for the area.
"Surely these people are going to take care of their home base first, and that is going to leave us last on the list," he said.
There is strength in numbers, said Viano. Splitting the district and the Poland community will weaken the area's chances at getting what it needs out of Washington, he said.
A woman sitting three tables away, who did not want to be identified, said losing Traficant would be tragic because he is from the area and knows people's needs.
Viano said the better idea would be to wait until the next election and let area residents have a chance to elect someone who will better represent their interests.
Viano also said Traficant, despite personal issues, has brought a lot back to the area.
Diane Siefert, who under the plan would be represented by Strickland, said she is not comfortable with the idea that she might have one congressman while friends living not far from her could be represented by someone else. Siefert does not believe two representatives so far away will be of any use to local residents.
More complaints: Customers and employees at a drugstore three blocks away echoed their neighbors in the deli with disappointment over the proposal.
Glenn Shafer, who would be represented by Strickland, said this area will get the "vote for me" attention during election time but not much else after that. Regardless of Traficant's personal problems, Shafer said, he is still the "local guy" and has put his best foot forward for the area.
Diane Zagotti said the plan will move out the man who cares.
"This is a small community, and we will get lost in the shuffle," she said. "One big bonus to having Jim Traficant is that he is from here and has interests that lie here."