The Ohio General Assembly and the Apportionment Board moved quickly in September to create and approve new Congressional and General Assembly districts for the 2012 elections. Despite Democrats calling foul on both processes and threatening legal challenges, the new maps were approved and potential candidates are already lining up to run. The rancorous debate prompted many to once again call for reforms to the redistricting and reapportionment process, including longtime advocate Secretary of State Jon Husted.

U.S. Congressional Districts

The Ohio General Assembly is charged with drawing new Congressional districts every 10 years to account for population shifts based on the decennial federal census results. Because of population gains in other states, Ohio’s representation in the U.S. House decreased by two seats, from 18 to 16. House Bill 319 was introduced on September 13 and drew complaints from Democrats, both about the shift in and shape of the districts and the tight timeframe of the bill: The new districts have to be in place by December 7, the deadline to file candidacy paperwork for the 2012 primary election.

The House State Government and Elections Committee voted the bill after one day of hearings and the full House approved the bill by a vote of 56-36. Three Democrats, Representatives Bill Patmon, Sandra Williams and John Barnes, all of Cleveland, joined Republicans in voting for the bill, while five Republicans, Representatives Jarrod Martin (Beavercreek), Rex Damschroder (Fremont), Bob Hackett (London), Kirk Schuring (Canton) and Ross McGregor (Springfield), voted against it. The Senate followed suit, passing the bill two days after introduction, by a vote of 24-7. Democrat Senators Shirley Smith (Cleveland) and Charleta Tavares (Columbus) joined Republicans in voting for the bill. The Senate also added an appropriation to assist local elections officials prepare for the new districts, a move that blocks any referendum campaign and made the bill immediately effective upon the governor’s signature on September 26, 2011.

Among the changes included in the plan are:

  • A new Democratic-leaning district that includes most of central Franklin County, with no incumbent.
  • Democrat Representatives Marcy Kaptur (9th-Toledo) and Dennis Kucinich (10th-Cleveland) are drawn into the new 9th District.
  • Republican Representatives Steve Austria (7th-Beavercreek) and Mike Turner (3rd-Dayton) are in the new 10th District.
  • Representatives Betty Sutton (13th-Akron) and Jim Renacci (16th-Canton) are districted together in the new 16th District. The district is drawn such that it favors Republican Renacci over Democrat Sutton.

Ohio General Assembly Districts

The Ohio Constitution mandates that the drawing of the new Ohio General Assembly districts is overseen by the members of the State Apportionment Board. Members of the board included Gov. John Kasich, Auditor of State Dave Yost, Secretary of State Jon Husted, Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) and House Minority Leader Armond Budish (D-Beachwood). The new plans were adopted by a vote of 4-1, with Budish as the lone dissenter.

Some of the changes included drawing current representatives and senators into the same district, such as:

  • In Lucas County, Representatives Matt Szollosi (D-Oregon) and Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo).
  • In Cuyahoga County, Representatives Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) and Budish share a district, although Yuko is term-limited.
  • In Hamilton County, Representatives Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) and Louis Terhar (R-Cincinnati).
  • Southeastern Ohio Representatives Mark Okey (D-Carrollton) and Andy Thompson (R-Marietta) share a district, although Okey announced earlier that he does not intend to run again.
  • In Franklin County, Representatives Ted Celeste (D-Columbus) and Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) share a district, as do Representatives Nancy Garland (D-New Albany) and Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville).
  • Senators Jason Wilson (D-Columbiana) and Joe Schiavoni (D-Austintown) are now in the same district.

Changes to Sen. Tim Schaffer’s (R-Lancaster) district also mean that his home would no longer lie in his district; he is term-limited in 2014.