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Sykes Says Redistricting Commission Should Be Drawing Maps

Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron)
Andy Chow
Ohio Public Radio
Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron)

It was revealed at the last redistricting commission meeting that different caucuses in the House and Senate were working on their own to present maps to the commission. But the top Democratic leader in the House said that's not what's mandated by the Ohio Constitution.

House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) said the Ohio Redistricting Commission, which she's on, is mandated by the constitution to draw the House and Senate maps.

Sykes said doing so can help prevent political games.

"Do the best that we can to minimize the amount of partisanship that is in this process because certainly it is very likely to happen but the more we do and talk about this in the open the less likely those types of influences will creep in," he said.

Senate Democrats have already presented a map to the commission and the Republican caucuses are working on proposals too.

Sykes said the issues around process could have been avoided had the commission convened earlier in the year instead of waiting to begin in August.

The next step in the process is for the commission to accept a map and hold public hearings on the proposal.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission missed the Wednesday deadline created through a constitutional amendment to pass the first round of state legislative maps. The next deadline is September.

Commission leaders said the delay of census data set them back, preventing them from approving a map before the deadline created by voters in 2015.

This is the first time Ohio is redrawing its boundaries with new constitutional rules approved by the voters. Those amendments require drafters to keep geographic boundaries like counties, cities and townships whole where possible, and demand buy-in from the minority party.

If the commission can’t get its two Democrats on board, whatever map they do approve will only be in place for four years. After that, they’ll have to get back together and try again.

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

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.