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Published: Tuesday, 5/22/2001

Change in city districts foils plans of candidate

Marie Sienkowski filed petitions yesterday morning to run for Toledo city council's District 5 seat, but by evening, she was living in District 1.

Ms. Sienkowski is a casualty of the redistricting of the city's six council districts, which was approved by the Toledo Apportionment Board yesterday.

The Sherbrooke Boulevard resident has been an activist in District 5's Westgate neighborhood for four years and hoped to campaign to be her area's representative on council. But the new lines put Sherbrooke in District 1, and Ms. Sienkowski said she now expects her petitions to be disqualified.

“It's very disappointing when you work very hard for your neighborhood. I still consider Westgate my neighborhood,” she said.

Ms. Sienkowski attended yesterday's meeting of the apportionment board and unsuccessfully asked its members to reconsider the redistricting plan up for approval. She rushed to file her petitions yesterday to prove her point that she was serious about running in District 5, not simply making an idle complaint.

Ms. Sienkowski stressed that she believed her neighborhood was part of the Westgate area and should remain in District 5, with the rest of Westgate.

But the board voted unanimously to approve proposed district maps, which resulted in 11 precincts in the city being moved into different districts.

City Law Director Barbara Herring said there is nothing to stop Ms. Sienkowski from running for District 1's council seat or for an at-large seat. But Ms. Sienkowski said she's not sure that's the case.

Because she filed her petitions to run for District 5, she does not believe she can file to run in a second district. She noted that running a citywide campaign is six times as expensive as running within a district, and she can't finance that kind of a campaign.

In addition, Ms. Sienkowski said she moved about six months ago, about a half-mile from her former residence, and purposely stayed within District 5 in anticipation of her council bid.

Because the city charter has a one-year residency requirement in order to run for a district seat, Ms. Sienkowski said she does not think she could run in District 1 if she wanted to because she has not lived there long enough.

Board member Michael Badik questioned whether the redistricting prevents Ms. Sienkowski from running for office.

Ms. Herring said it was impossible to redistrict and not affect someone, but she did not feel that Ms. Sienkowski's situation posed a legal concern.

District lines were redrawn so each council district is nearly equal in population based on 2000 census data, in order to conform with federal law and the city charter.

According to the new district boundaries, precincts 12B, 12F, and 12R, near Toledo Hospital, move from District 5 to District 1; precincts 2K, 2L, 4F, 4G, and 4J in the Lagrange area move from District 6 to District 4; and precincts 3F, 3G, and 3H, east of Douglas Road between Laskey and Alexis roads, move from District 5 to District 6.

Aside from Ms. Sienkowski's situation, the district lines have received compliments because the board made few changes in order to accomplish its goal of equalizing the city's population among the districts.

The maps will be put on file with city council.



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