Legislative Districts Not Done Yet

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The state Apportionment Board approved changes to Senate and House districts earlier this week, but last-minute concerns are pushing the board to meet again Friday afternoon.(Photo: Ohio Senate)
The state Apportionment Board approved changes to Senate and House districts earlier this week, but last-minute concerns are pushing the board to meet again Friday afternoon.(Photo: Ohio Senate)

As Democrats file suit over the map for Congressional districts, the map that covers lawmakers in the state House and Senate apparently isn’t set either, even though the state Apportionment Board approved new districts earlier this week.

At issue are the Cuyahoga county’s 21st and the 25th Senate districts, now represented by Democratic Senators Shirley Smith and Nina Turner. Democratic Rep. Sandra Williams had asked the apportionment board if her House district could be moved into Smith’s district and out of Turner’s. The board found her request to be confusing and didn’t act on it, though Minority Leader Armond Budish of suburban Cleveland notes no one talked to her about it.

”Apparently it’s like the game of telephone. Things did not get conveyed the way they were stated,” Budish says.

The board will now meet Friday afternoon, and it’s expected Williams’ House district will indeed be moved into Smith’s Senate district and out of Turner’s, as Williams requested. Williams can’t run again for her House seat in 2014, and Smith is term limited in the Senate then – but Turner is not. Jim Slagle at the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting notes that Williams would end up in a Senate district favored toward Democrats with no incumbent.

“That’s our problem with this process. The politicians should not be the ones drawing the districts. They ought to be taking input from the public,” Slagle says.

Williams had said she thinks moving her district into Smith’s district would satisfy concerns about minority representation. But Slagle says the move would put the same concerns into Turner’s district. Turner said in a statement that the reconvening of the apportionment board is “a nightmare”, and that the communities in northeast Ohio should be insulted by those who control the process.

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