Youngstown council to consider legislation for a firm to redistrict the city’s wards

By David Skolnick


City council will consider legislation Wednesday to authorize the administration to seek proposals from firms to redistrict the city’s seven wards.

But it looks unlikely that the issue will be resolved at that meeting.

The legislation gives the administration the authority to seek proposals but not to enter into a contract.

City council decided to halt the redistricting effort Sept. 3 to get a second opinion on proposed maps provided by Youngstown State University’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies. Council is to take a formal vote Wednesday on seeking outside firms.

However, Councilman Mike Ray, D-4th, and Paul Drennen, D-5th, who oppose looking for another firm, said they will vote against the proposal.

For legislation to be approved by an emergency vote, six of seven council members must vote in favor of it. Otherwise, it takes three votes at three separate meetings to approve legislation. If council doesn’t have special meetings, the earliest it can be approved by council is Oct. 16.

“I won’t vote in favor of it,” Ray said. “YSU did a fine job. We can work through this with YSU and the [Mahoning County] Board of Elections.”

Drennen said he objects to the ordinance’s language that redistricting should be done “at the direction of Youngstown City Council.”

“We should have no say” in that to make it a fair process, Drennen said.

“It’s a second opinion, that’s all it is,” Councilman John R. Swierz, D-7th, said of the proposed legislation. “I’m not dissatisfied with YSU, but we need to get another opinion.”

The legislation doesn’t commit any money to hiring another firm, and any decision on paying a second agency needs council approval, said Councilman Nate Pinkard, D-3rd.

The city already has spent $8,000 for the YSU maps that divide the seven wards into populations that are more even than now. The populations, based on the 2010 federal census, ranged from 7,117 to 12,130.

The city hasn’t redistricted since the early 1980s.

The new wards would take effect in the 2015 election, so boundaries would need to be in place by the fall of 2014.

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