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Published: Monday, 5/2/2011

Population loss spurs revamp of council areas


The decline in the city's population over the last 10 years means that Toledo City Council district boundaries will shift, leading to a smaller South Toledo district and larger districts covering downtown and the central city.

A reapportionment of City Council to make the districts "as nearly equal in population as possible," as the Toledo City Charter mandates, is under way, and is required to be done by May 15.

Mayor Mike Bell and City Council have appointed a six-person board which will begin holding public hearings Tuesday.

In 2000, the apportionment board set a goal of no more than a 10 percent population gap between the largest and smallest districts.

Michael Beazley, chairman of the apportionment board, said the board has asked the Toledo Plan Commission for a recommendation that brings the smallest districts -- 3 and 4 -- to within 95 percent of the largest district, District 2.

That likely will mean some smaller changes in the other three districts -- 1, 5, and 6.

"The apportionment board is going to have to look at the question of balancing continuity and consistency with having the districts as equal in size as possible," Mr. Beazley said. "Obviously there's no solution that keeps everyone happy."

District 2, comprised of most of South Toledo, lost the least amount of population since 2000, about 3 percent, falling in 2010 to 52,139 from 53,520. Its representative is Councilman D. Michael Collins, an independent.

District 5 in West Toledo lost 6 percent, with a population decline to 49,543 in 2010 from 52,770 in 2000. It is represented by Councilman Tom Waniewski, a Republican.

District 1, in central and southwest Toledo, and District 6 in Point Place and West Toledo, each lost about 7 percent. The population of District 1 dipped to 48,440 from 51,965 and the population of District 6 declined to 48,984 from 52,893.

The representative of District 1 is Democrat Wilma Brown and District 6's councilman is Lindsay Webb, a Democrat.

Districts 3 and 4 lost about 14 percent of their populations.

District 4, which includes the downtown and neighborhoods to the immediate north, west, and south, fell to 44,226 from 51,600. District 3, made up of East Toledo and part of the Old South End, fell in population to 43,876 from 50,871.

District 3 is represented by Democrat Mike Craig; the District 4 councilman is Democrat Paula Hicks-Hudson.

Neighborhoods that could move from District 2 include those along Broadway and River Road or Airport Highway west of Detroit Avenue.

Part of District 1 that juts east of Detroit Avenue and a part of District 6 that goes south of Manhattan Boulevard are considered the best candidates for enlarging District 4.

Mr. Collins said he'd like to see the apportionment board maintain continuity rather than seek perfect equilibrium.

"While I understand that District 2 is going to be losing population, which I regret, I feel that if the district council members are working in conjunction with one another, this should have no adverse effect on the quality of services that we advocate for our respective districts," he said.

Councilman Craig said that a councilman with fewer residents has less political clout with his fellow councilmen because he or she represents fewer voters.

"I've been banging my head against that wall," Mr. Craig said. "I would urge them to keep the districts as close [in population] as possible."

The apportionment board needs five votes to approve a new map, which is then submitted to the clerk of council and the Lucas County Board of Elections.

City Council approved the makeup of the board as recommended by Mayor Bell with two Democrats, two Republicans, and two independents as required by the city charter.

The board members are Democrats Mr. Beazley and Schylar Meadows, Republicans Phil Barbosa and Timothy Pecsenye, and independents Ken Fallows and Andrew Newby, all of Toledo. Board members serve as volunteers and receive no pay.

The schedule of public hearings is 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Highland Park shelter house, 1865 Finch St.; 5 p.m. May 10, Lagrange branch library, 3422 Lagrange St.; and 7 p.m. May 10, West Toledo branch library, 1320 West Sylvania Ave.

Contract Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.

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