5 firms submit proposals to redistrict Youngstown's 7 wards
By David Skolnick
Five firms, including four from out of state, submitted proposals to develop plans to redistrict the city’s seven wards — even though the mayor sees no reason to hire a company for the work.
Mayor John A. McNally again said Friday the dozen maps provided by Youngstown State University’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies to city council were acceptable, and if council members want any changes they should talk to Thomas Finnerty, the center’s associate director.
“At this point and time, there’s nothing that’s going to make me change my mind,” McNally said.
City council approved legislation Oct. 17 by a 5-2 vote to have the city “issue a request for proposals for an entity to prepare at the direction of Youngstown City Council, plans to redistrict the seven wards.”
The legislation doesn’t compel anyone in the city to hire a firm for the work, and McNally said he won’t allow money to be spent on it.
The city paid $3,854 to YSU for its work.
Proposals submitted by Friday’s deadline to redistrict the seven wards came from:
Triad Research Group of Westlake for $7,500 to $10,000.
Research Advisory Services Inc. of Phoenix, Ariz., for $26,000.
Research & Polling Inc. of Albuquerque, N.M., for $15,750 plus travel expenses.
Census Channel of Hampton, Va., for $10,800 to $18,000.
Citygate GIS of Annapolis, Md., for $12,500 with $1,500 for every work session or public meeting plus travel expenses and map production fees.
In a letter to Law Director Martin Hume, Finnerty wrote that the center “cannot in good conscience respond to your request for proposals concerning ward redistricting as we have already performed the work specified, and the city has already paid for it. Should council wish to adjust any of the maps previously provided, or should this process default to the law director, we are open to perform such services under the terms of an existing agreement.”
The last time the city redistricted was about 30 years ago, and the seven wards are inequitable in population ranging from 7,227 to 12,130, according to 2010 U.S. census figures.
Council had said in late 2013 that it would have redistricting done in time for the 2015 election.
Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st, is the most vocal opponent of the YSU maps, saying it unfairly cuts up her ward. Every map from YSU takes away Gillam’s East Side home in order to add population to the 2nd Ward, which takes in most of that part of the city.
Gillam’s husband, Artis, a former eight-year council member, recently said he was giving serious consideration to running for his seat.
When asked about his house being redistricted into the 2nd Ward, he said, “It ain’t gonna happen. Take my word for it. There’s other ways of doing it to keep our street in the 1st Ward.”