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Redistricting plan strengthens Valley as Dem stronghold

By David Skolnick

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


By David Skolnick


The congressional boundary lines of districts served by U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan, Bill Johnson and Steven C. LaTourette will see several changes under a redistricting plan, but only some Mahoning Valley communities will have new districts.

Ohio Republicans unveiled the redistricting plan Tuesday. The state is losing two of its 18 House seats in the 2012 election because the state’s population didn’t grow as fast as the rest of the nation’s.

The redistricting takes effect with the 2012 election.

Ryan’s current 17th Congressional District will be renamed the 13th District.

As reported Tuesday in The Vindicator, Ryan’s district will include a little less of Trumbull and Portage counties but will grow in Mahoning and Summit counties.

Also, the northwestern portion of Stark County — Alliance and Lexington and Washington townships — will join the district.

Because of the changes, Trumbull will no longer be the most-populated county in the congressional district, something it’s been for the past decade.

A statistical analysis by The Vindicator shows that Mahoning will be the new district’s most-populated county with about 209,000 residents compared with about 190,000 for Trumbull.

Ryan, a Democrat from Niles, has represented the 17th District since January 2003.

The biggest pickup for the 13th district is Boardman, with a population of 42,518, moving from the 6th.

Also moving from the 6th to the new 13th will be the village of Poland, the townships of Milton and Jackson, and a tiny portion of Austintown that’s in the 6th.

With the additions, the already-strong Democratic district gets even stronger.

“I look forward to running for re-election in whatever new district the Ohio Legislature creates in and around Akron and the Mahoning Valley so that I can continue my work advancing the economic accomplishments we’ve recently seen in Northeast Ohio,” Ryan said.

Smaller, rural townships in the southern and central-western portions of Mahoning County will remain in the 6th District as will Canfield city and township.

The 6th, the longest congressional district in the state stretching for about 325 miles along the state’s eastern and southern borders through 12 counties, will grow under the Republican plan.

The district’s current makeup includes eight full counties, including Columbiana, its population center, and four partial counties, including Mahoning.

The redistricting plan has the 6th District taking in 14 full counties and parts of four other counties.

Columbiana County remains the district’s most populous county.

New counties to the 6th include Harrison, Guernsey, Carroll and Jackson and portions of Muskingum and Tuscarawas.

The addition of more rural and conservative areas while eliminating some left-leaning locations, such as Athens, turns the district from slightly Democratic to leaning Republican.

Johnson, a Republican from Marietta, is serving his first term representing the district.

The Trumbull County townships leaving the 13th will go to the 14th District, represented by LaTourette of Bainbridge, a nine-term Republican incumbent.

The 14th already includes seven northern rural townships in Trumbull.

The new district will add more rural portions of Trumbull to the 14th: Farmington, Bristol, Mecca and Fowler townships [except a tiny portion of the city of Cortland in the latter township], and the village of Orangeville.

LaTourette’s district is also expanding in Portage, Summit and Cuyahoga counties.

The 14th will remain about 50-50 Democrat- Republican — the only district among the new 16 that doesn’t lean one way or the other.