Public’s tears and fears come out before redistricting heads to joint committee

By: - November 10, 2021 12:30 am

The Ohio Senate Local Government and Elections Committee hears from the public on two redistricting proposals, one from Senate Dems and the other from the Senate GOP on November 4. (Photo by Susan Tebben, OCJ)

The last of the General Assembly’s congressional redistricting public hearings in individual committees are this week, just as a joint committee starts work.

In Senate Local Government and Elections Committee on Tuesday, the last scheduled hearings on GOP and Democratic bills to change the congressional district maps in the state occurred, with much of the same criticism for the GOP map that anti-gerrymandering groups and Ohioans in target areas say don’t focus on fairness.

The Ohio Senate GOP’s congressional redistricting map proposal.

On Tuesday, Bellbrook resident Wendy Dyer spoke through tears about the volunteering she did to promote the petition that would eventually change the state constitution and the redistricting process as a whole. She said at that time she felt a sense of achievement and change in the state, something that’s now changed with the map proposals from the GOP.

“I thought Ohio had really accomplished something,” Dyer said. “Now I really just feel stupid that I honestly believed that my government would do the right thing.”

Anne Light Hoke, of Columbus, said she disagrees with the Senate Republican map that moves her from District 3 to District 15, which is nestled in with three other districts in Franklin County, but then stretches due south into most of rural Southeastern Ohio.

Hoke said as a resident of Columbus, she said she has “urban concerns” like public transportation, traffic congestion and police brutality.

“Although I was born in a small town, I no longer have small town concerns like broadband access, access to sewer systems and water systems, burning trash regulations and fracking,” Hoke told the committee members on Tuesday.

The public input is set to continue Wednesday morning in the House Government Oversight Committee on House Bill 479, the House GOP’s map proposal. As of Wednesday, the committee agenda had not changed to include a new map proposal from the House Democrats, introduced on Monday.

Also on Wednesday, the new joint committee on congressional redistricting is scheduled to meet for the first time at 2:30 p.m. in the Ohio Statehouse’s south hearing room. The two chairs of the House and Senate committees that have been hearing individual map proposals, state Rep. Shane Wilkin, R-Hillsboro and state Sen. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, will be the co-chairs of the joint committee.

The joint committee is also scheduled to meet on Friday at 10:30 a.m., in the House Finance Room (Room 313).

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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