OHIO REDISTRICTING Plan merges parts of Akron, Valley
Two committee members from the Mahoning Valley voted against the changes.
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- The congressional map in the Akron area would change, sending more of the city of Akron into a congressional district now represented by U.S. Rep. Thomas Sawyer, under the latest Republican congressional redistricting plan.
The revised plan that emerged Thursday sends additional parts of inner-city Akron from the proposed district of U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown of Lorain, D-3rd, to the proposed district for Sawyer, of Akron, D-14th. Sawyer's district currently takes in nearly all of Summit County and more than half of Portage County.
Brown would pick up most of Cuyahoga Falls in Summit County and would still have most of the Akron wards, under the revised plan. The remainder of Cuyahoga Falls would be in a district now represented by U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette of Madison, R-19th.
Democratic leaders in the Legislature said the changes they pushed for were important.
"We felt it was important to protect as many Democratic members of Congress as possible," said Ohio Senate Minority Leader Leigh E. Herington, a Portage County Democrat.
"We think it's a much better map," Herington said.
Panel vote: The House State Government Committee approved the latest Republican proposal Thursday by an 8-to-4 vote.
Democratic state Reps. Anthony A. Latell Jr., of Girard, D-67th; Sylvester Patton of Youngstown, D-64th; Barbara Sykes of Akron, D-44th, and Mary Rose Oakar of Cleveland, D-13th, voted "no."
House Speaker Larry Householder said he expected the full House to vote Tuesday on the redistricting plan.
If approved, the matter would then be considered by the Senate.
The boundaries: Under the latest Republican proposal, the congressional district currently represented by Sawyer runs from Summit County through southern Portage County and into Trumbull and Mahoning counties.
The northern parts of Portage and Trumbull counties are in the district currently represented by LaTourette.
Patton said he thought the proposed Sawyer district would increase the proportion of Akron in relation to the Youngstown-Warren area.
Under the original redistricting plan introduced by Republicans, the Youngstown area was the most populous area in that proposed congressional district.
The latest shift could hurt the Mahoning Valley in its congressional representation if it's adopted, Patton said.
The new congressional districts are being prepared for the elections later this year.
Right now, most of Trumbull and Columbiana counties and all of Mahoning are in a congressional district represented by U.S. Rep. James Traficant of Poland, D-17th.
Rearrangement: Columbiana County and most of Mahoning County would be added to a proposed congressional district that would extend along the Ohio River all the way to Scioto County, under the Republican plan.
The Youngstown and Warren areas of Traficant's old district would be in Sawyer's district, while the northern portion of Trumbull County would be merged with a congressional district represented by LaTourette.
Majority Republicans need to pass the bill as an emergency to avoid moving the congressional primary past the May 7 primary for state and local offices.
The GOP holds a 59-40 majority in the House and a 21-12 edge in the Senate. However, a two-thirds majority is needed in each chamber -- 66 votes in the House and 22 in the Senate -- to enact an emergency clause, meaning Republicans will need Democratic votes.