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Published: Thursday, 5/5/2011

Toledo council district revision plan meets dissent

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

The Toledo City Council apportionment board encountered some opposition to its plan for balancing the city's six council districts, at the first public hearing, held Tuesday night. And the public will have two more chances to air questions or concerns next week before a final plan is drawn up.

A handful of residents of District 2, in South Toledo, said Tuesday they didn't want to be moved into District 3, as proposed by the Toledo Plan Commission.

"I think we need someone who's going to represent South Toledo," said Sue Sherman, 51, who lives on Westbury Court near South Avenue and Westwood Avenue. She said the community will be "like some little add-on area."

Several speakers said they felt geographically closer to their councilman, D. Michael Collins, who lives in South Toledo, than to District 3 Councilman Mike Craig, who lives in East Toledo.

Ms. Sherman was one of four people who spoke about the proposed change out of eight citizens who attended the hearing in the Highland Park shelter house in South Toledo.

The city charter requires reapportionment every 10 years following the U.S. Census. The 2010 Census reported a widening gap between District 2, the largest district, with a population of 52,139, and District 3, with a population of 43,876.

District 3 encompasses all of East Toledo and part of South Toledo, including neighborhoods around Broadway and Western Avenue.

District 4, made up of the central city and downtown, also has lost a lot of population, and now has 44,226 residents.

The plan commission's proposal would reset all five districts to between 47,642 and 48,342 people.

The plan commission proposes to move District 2 precincts along Broadway east of Amherst Drive and the Burroughs School neighborhoods into District 3.

The apportionment board also is considering moving precincts from Districts 6 and 1 into District 4, and from District 5 into District 6.

The two remaining public hearings are set for Tuesday: at 5 p.m. at the Lagrange branch library, 3422 Lagrange St., then at 7 p.m. at the West Toledo branch library, 1320 West Sylvania Ave.

Mike Beazley, Oregon city administrator and chairman of the six-member apportionment board, said the board has a goal of narrowing the gap between the largest and smallest districts to 5 percentage points, but that state law would allow a variance of as much as 10 points. At present, District 3 is about 85 percent of the population size of District 2. The proposal advanced by the plan commission would bring all five districts to within 2 percentage points.

"We are going to listen, and at the end of the process we'll make a decision," Mr. Beazley said. "The population has shifted. It's hard for us to leave it alone." The board's deadline to act is May 15.

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



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