OHIO House passes redistricting plan by GOP
State Reps. Dan Sferra and Timothy Grendell voted for the plan.
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- The Mahoning Valley's state representatives split on the plan to redraw Ohio's congressional lines.
State Reps. John A. Boccieri of New Middletown, D-57th; Ken Carano of Austintown, D-65th; Anthony A. Latell Jr. of Girard, D-67th; Sylvester Patton of Youngstown, D-64th; and Charles Blasdel of East Liverpool, R-3rd; all voted "no" Tuesday on the plan that would redraw congressional lines.
State Reps. Daniel J. Sferra of Warren, D-66th, and Timothy J. Grendell of Chesterland, R-68th, voted for the plan, which passed the Ohio House by a 71-28 vote, sending the matter to the Republican-controlled Senate.
Sferra said he liked the new proposed 17th District.
"Trumbull County and Warren would have the most population in the new district," Sferra said. "It would be good for Warren and Trumbull County."
The GOP redistricting plan "eliminates the voice of the Mahoning Valley in Congress," Boccieri said on the House floor. "We will lose our identity."
About the plan: As part of an effort to reduce the number of Ohio's congressional members from 19 to 18 because of population changes in the state, Republicans in the Legislature carved up the congressional district represented by U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. of Poland, D-17th.
Part of Traficant's district was merged with a district represented by U.S. Rep. Thomas Sawyer, D-Akron, creating a district that would stretch from Akron through most of Portage County and into the Mahoning Valley.
Under the GOP-crafted redistricting plan, northern Trumbull County was added to a district represented by U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Madison.
Meanwhile, southern Mahoning County and all of Columbiana County, which were in the Traficant district, was placed in a sprawling district that would stretch from southern Mahoning County along the Ohio River to part of Scioto County.
Traficant faces trial in February on federal charges including racketeering and bribery.
"This has nothing to do with political personalities and everything to do with the people and their voice," Boccieri said.
Tabled amendment: The House tabled an amendment offered by Carano that would have moved Milton and Jackson townships and the part of Austintown Township that's in the proposed 6th District back to the proposed new 17th District.
The amendment also would have moved all of Poland Township from the proposed 17th to the proposed 6th District. The township is split between the 17th and 6th districts under the plan.
"We're going to have to live with this for 10 years" Carano said before the House vote on his amendment.
Blasdel said he was concerned with the proposed 6th District that would include Columbiana and southern Mahoning counties.
"When you look at the district, it's about 250 miles long," Blasdel said. "From a representation standpoint, we had better options."