Residents of northwest Ohio will have a chance to comment at hearings Monday in Toledo and Lima on the reapportionment of state House and Senate districts.
The reapportionment is mandated by the state Constitution based on new 2010 census numbers.
Five days of apportionment hearings that blanket the state begin this morning at the Ohio State University Lima campus and in the afternoon at the University of Toledo's Scott Park campus.
State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) is skeptical that anything said at the public meeting will make any difference to the outcome, but said people should have their say anyway.
"I think they're going to do what they're going to do but I think it's smart for them to get out on the road and hear what people's concerns are," Ms. Fedor said.
Rob Nichols, spokesman for Gov. John Kasich, said the Constitution sets pretty specific guidelines for designing the 99 House and 33 Senate districts, but public comments will be utilized to the fullest extent possible.
"Ultimately we want a bottom-up process where we invite public participation and that public commentary is used to actually create the maps," Mr. Nichols said. "There is some discretion there."
Since 2002, Lucas County has had four House districts entirely within its borders. Its 2010 population of 441,815 people may be too small to have four self-contained districts because of the criterion that no House district have fewer than 95 percent of the target population of 116,530 residents per district.
■ 10 a.m. to noon — Life and Physical Sciences Building, Ohio State University/Rhodes Community College campus, 4240 Campus Dr., Lima.
■ 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. — Auditorium, Scott Park Campus, University of Toledo.
For more information, including mapping tool, available at reshapeohio.org
The four Lucas County House districts are the:
46th, represented now by Barbara Sears (R., Monclova), encompassing western Lucas County to the city of Toledo.
47th, represented by Ms. Fedor, with south and southwest Toledo and east Toledo.
48th, represented by Michael Ashford (D., Toledo), with the central city and downtown.
49th, represented by Matt Szollosi (D., Oregon), with West Toledo, Point Place, Washington and Jerusalem townships, and Oregon.
Of the four, only Ms. Sears has too many people. The 46th will have to give up territory to the other three districts, which are below the population targets.
Ms. Sears' district had 127,690 people in the 2010 census, 9 percent above the target. Ms. Fedor's district had 102,904 residents, about 12 percent below the target. Mr. Ashford's district had 103,896 residents, about 11 percent below the target. And Mr. Szollosi's district had a population of 107,325, about 8 percent below the target.
Ms. Sears acknowledged that it's likely that parts of her district will be shifted into the other districts, but said she doesn't know any of the details yet.
"I absolutely have no idea. They are keeping so closed-mouth on that," Ms. Sears said.
Republicans control the apportionment board 4-1. The members of the board are Republicans Gov. John Kasich, Secretary of State Jon Husted, Auditor David Yost, and Senate President Tom Niehaus of New Richmond, and Democrat House Minority Leader Armond Budish of Beachwood.
Mr. Szollosi said he's sure the Republican team controlling the reapportionment will look for political advantage.
"Certainly they want to give the perception that they're taking into account what the public has to say. I think this is purely political and the major party is going to make decisions based on political power instead of proper balance based on equal representation in the legislature," Mr. Szollosi said.
The makeup of House districts also affects Senate districts because each Senate district contains three House districts. Locally, the 11th Senate District, represented now by Sen. Edna Brown (D., Toledo), includes the three Democratic districts -- 47th, 48th, and 49th.
The 2nd Senate District, represented by Mark Wagoner of Ottawa Hills, includes the 46th House District, along with the 6th House District, represented by Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green), and the 80th House District, represented by Dennis Murray (D., Sandusky). Mr. Gardner's district is all of Wood County, while Mr. Murray's district includes Erie County and most of Ottawa County.
Republicans control the House 59-40 and the Senate 23-10.
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