Monday, July 25, 2011

St. Rep. Combs Encourages Public Input on Redistricting Process

COLUMBUS – Every decade the state of Ohio is faced with decisions that will undoubtedly influence all citizens’ lives. That time has come once again, State Government and Elections sub-committee on Redistricting held the first of many public discussions concerning Ohio’s redistricting process. Three public hearings were held in Columbus, Zanesville, and Cleveland. The location of these discussions were decided  to allow community members to voice their specific areas of concern before a joint panel consisting of Ohio House and Senate members selected to establish the redistricting format of our state.

I am honored to serve as Vice Chairman of the House State Government and Elections Sub-Committee on Redistricting which has combined on the road with the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting. 

As the 2010 nationwide census results dictate, Ohio must eliminate two congressional seats of the 18 currently held in Congress, a result of the low rate of growth in population relative to other states. Large shifts in populations across the country means that many states must add or remove congressional districts from their state maps. Of all the states that will lose at least one congressional seat, only New York and Ohio will lose two. Consequently, Texas and Florida are the only two states whose populations grew enough in the last ten years to add two new congressional districts to their maps for the upcoming 2012 elections.

The redistricting process is crucial to our state’s future; establishing not only who you vote for but also what issues will be of most priority to those elected in the 2012 elections and beyond. The redistricting process is designed to represent the interest of all Ohioans, not the parties and groups that hold power. The members facing these decisions must base their decisions on fair, objective, and measurable criteria. By utilizing public settings when conducting these meetings citizens are more likely to use open language resulting in a transparent process. The public’s involvement during the redistricting process is crucial and absolutely encouraged.

 During the first public discussion held at the Ohio Statehouse an abundance of testimony was offered and vetted appropriately. A Professor of Elections Law at The Ohio State University, three representatives from the League of Women Voters, and a representative from Ohio’s Legislative Service Commission whom discussed the details of congressional redistricting. A professor of political science from the Ohio State University discussed the criteria needed in the process to ensure the quality of democracy. A consultant of the Ohio Legislative Black caucus discussed their priorities for minorities and a citizen from the East side of Columbus came to voice her concerns regarding appropriate minority representation around Columbus.

Traditionally, a small group of elected officials decide how they would like to ‘redistrict Ohio’ with input from the minority party and the public, however this General Assembly approached the process differently by combining House and Senate redistricting committees, in effort we believe will allow all citizens a chance to convey their viewpoints on how Ohio’s Districts should be adjusted in 2012 until the next national census. Representative Courtney Combs said, “we have gotten a lot of great input from the public in all the cities we’ve visited and look forward to more people joining us at the meetings in coming weeks.” The joint committee will hold their next two public hearings on Tuesday, August 2nd at the following times and locations

9:00am to 12:00pm Lima,                                                                             
The Ohio State University at Lima & Rhodes State College           
Life & Physical Sciences Building                                                             
4240 Campus Drive                                                                                        
Lima, Ohio 45804                                                                                           

3:30pm to 6:00pm Cincinnati
University of Cincinnati
Main Street Cinema
Tangeman University Center, Rm 220
Cincinnati, Ohio 45221