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Politics

Ohio Redistricting Commission Gets An Earful At Weekend Hearing On Proposed Legislative Maps

Ohio House Democratic Leader Emilia Sykes, Senate President Matt Huffman, House Speaker Bob Cupp, both Republicans, and Democratic state Sen. Vernon Sykes speak to Auditor Keith Faber at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, ahead of the first meeting Friday, Aug. 6, 2021, of the Ohio Redistricting Commission on which they all sit.
Julie Carr Smyth
/
AP
Ohio House Democratic Leader Emilia Sykes, Senate President Matt Huffman, House Speaker Bob Cupp, both Republicans, and Democratic state Sen. Vernon Sykes speak to Auditor Keith Faber at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, ahead of the first meeting Friday, Aug. 6, 2021, of the Ohio Redistricting Commission on which they all sit.

Members of the panel that will approve new maps for Ohio House and Senate districts were lambasted Sunday by Ohioans who attended a public hearing in Dayton that went on for more than four hours.

Overwhelmingly, those who spoke said the maps under consideration are hyper-partisan.

Connie Sheets, a self-described Republican from Cincinnati, said ordinary citizens were coming up with maps that were better and more representative of voters.

“So either you guys don’t want to put together good maps or you are incompetent,” Sheets said.

Sheets told majority Republicans on the commission the legislative maps under consideration were "a punch in the face" to Ohioans who voted with the goal of ending gerrymandering. "I'm absolutely appalled at your behavior," Sheets said.

Vanessa Enoch, an African American Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for the 8th Congressional District last year, said the maps are unfair to minorities. And she fears younger voters will move away like her daughter did because they don't feel as if they aren’t represented.

“They leave. Innovation and creativity will leave with them," Enoch said.

Majority Republicans who proposed the maps said they’re open to changes. As they stand now, the maps are expected to ensure Republican supermajorities in the state legislature.

There will be more hearings before the maps are finalized. The commission meets on Monday at Corporate College East in Warrensville Heights outside of Cleveland at 4 p.m. They will meet in Columbus at the Ohio Statehouse at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

The maps are expected to be approved this week, since the panel set a deadline of September 15 after missing the September 1 deadline that voters approved in the Ohio constitution.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.