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Columbus City Council Redistricting Commission Preps For September Deadline

Columbus City Hall
David Holm
Columbus City Hall

The Council Residential Redistricting Commission continues to draft new district maps that it plans to release next month.

The CRDC hopes to release the first round of new district maps on September 1, with Columbus City Council approving one of three district maps produced by the commission by the end of the year.

Commission member David Paul said the districts will be based off of already existing known areas and neighborhoods in Columbus.

"We're not gerrymandering by any means, we're not carving out districts to favor one party or any party or the other," Paul said. "In fact, that's something very specifically called out in the charter, that that's not something we can or should do."

In 2018, the Columbus City Council approved a charter amendment that would expand its members from seven to nine, each one representing a different district in Columbus. The districts are what the CRDC are drafting at the moment. Despite representing different districts however, the council members will still be voted on by the entire city.

Other large cities like Chicago have wards represented by various aldermen. Before the charter was passed, grassroots organization Everyday People for Positive Change had petitioned for the city council to expand its members to 13 and have a ward-like election system.

While the new system will be different from that, Paul said it's representative of a growing Columbus.

"I think that's part of the maturation of the city," Paul said. "I do see this as kind of an evolution to a model that larger cities have used for some time. It doesn't come without additional challenges though."

The CRDC met last week and continues to hold public meetings every Wednesday this month in order to reach its deadline.

Michael Lee joined WOSU in 2021, but was previously an intern at the station in 2018. He is a graduate from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism where he obtained his master's degree, and an alumnus of Ohio State University. Michael has previously worked as an intern at the Columbus Dispatch and most recently, the Chicago Sun-Times.