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Panel discusses changes to charter

Published: Sat, March 31, 2012 @ 12:04 a.m.

By David Skolnick



Those attending a city charter-review committee meeting want the city’s seven ward boundaries redrawn and talked of eliminating term limits and possibly having nonpartisan elections for mayor and council.

The committee invited officials with businesses based in the city to a meeting Friday at the main branch of the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County to discuss possible changes to the charter.

Only seven people showed up, and James J. Pirko, a commercial, industrial and economic- development real-estate agent for Howard Hanna, was the lone person in the committee’s target group.

Also, Tony Paglia, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s vice president of government affairs, was at the meeting.

Six of the 11 charter- review committee members attended.

Though the group was small, the conversation was lively.

Pirko and William Binning, chairman emeritus of Youngstown State University’s political-science department, spoke in favor of removing term limits that restrict someone from serving more than two four-year elected terms to council and mayor.

Paglia wants to keep terms at four years. Four years is fine for mayor, but city council members should be required to run every two years, Pirko said.

The committee plans to have proposed recommendations ready for public input in May.

After a public hearing that month to get feedback on the proposals, the commission would bring the finished product to city council by June 1.

Council must agree to place recommendations on the November general election ballot for a public vote.

That could be an issue as members of council have expressed concerns about two key issues being considered by the commission.

They are: redistricting the city’s seven ward- boundaries to make population in each more equitable and reducing terms from four years to two.

Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st, who attended Friday’s meeting, said she opposes redistricting.

The charter reads: “All wards shall be composed of contiguous and compact territory, as nearly equal in population as possible and bounded by natural boundaries or street lines.”

The section states: “Following each federal census, council may redistrict the city so as to maintain a reasonable equality of population among the seven wards.”

Scott Schulick, the committee’s vice chairman, and Phil Kidd, a member, say the committee plans to recommend the word “may” be changed to “must” or “shall.”

“There’s a consensus this is an issue the charter-review committee needs to address,” Schulick said.

Nearly all of those attending Friday’s meeting agreed.

The lines haven’t been redrawn in more than 30 years, leaving the seven wards with populations ranging from 7,237 to 12,130.

After the meeting, Schulick said despite the talk, he doesn’t necessarily agree council members aren’t flexible on redistricting.

“If we have a strong public response at the May meeting” in favor of redistricting, “it would be hard [for council] to say no to something that has strong support from the public and a committee of people appointed by council and the mayor,” he said.


1peggygurney(408 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Ought to be interesting.

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2PhilKidd(189 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

The city's wards haven't been redistricted in over 30 years. There is clear unequal representation at present and a law suit could be filed.

The Charter states that City Council or the Law Department 'may' redistrict after each federal Census. There has been three federal Census' since the last redistricting.

City Council or the Law Department could redistrict RIGHT NOW if they wanted to.
They don't need the Charter Review Committee to make a recommendation to do so.

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3Silence_Dogood(1670 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

PhilKidd you really need to get real . The City Law Department can't even negotiate a workforce Union contract for its various departments. That Department is USELESS.

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4Yo_Charter_Review(6 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

The question of ward redistricting is a simple one. Currently, we are in violation of not only federal law but common sense. People in certain wards count more than people in other wards! Look at the chart below, which reflects our current situation.
Current Representation per Ward
Ward 1 = 9,123
Ward 2 = 8,374
Ward 3 = 8,764
Ward 4 = 12,130
Ward 5 = 10,054
Ward 6 = 7,227
Ward 7 = 11,304
This reflects data from the 2012 census, where it was revealed that Youngstown's population is now 66,982.
To equitably represent those 66,982 residents among seven wards, each ward would need to contain about 9,570 people, not the varying numbers above. If we redistricted into five wards, each ward would contain 13,397 people.
Equitable Representation per Ward
66,982 / 7 wards = 9,570 residents per ward.
66,982 / 5 wards = 13,397 residents per ward.
For comparison, Youngstown had 170,002 residents at the 1930 census. Divided between seven wards, that was 24,286 residents per ward.
Representation per Ward in 1930
170,002 / 7 wards = 24,286 residents per ward.
Why was our city council so tough in 1930 that they could handle 24,286 residents per ward? What has happened that nowadays our council is arguing that they can't handle shifting to 13,397 among five wards or even just 9,570 residents among seven wards?
Answer: our council is too comfortable and are not working hard enough to represent the residents of Youngstown properly.
Redistrict into five wards. That's 13,397 residents per ward, almost half of what council represented per ward in 1930. It's the least council can do toward equitably representing their citizens and running an efficient government.
Any argument against redistricting comes from GREED and SLOTH.
REDISTRICT the city of Youngstown into FIVE WARDS with 13,397 residents EACH.

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