Youngstown council tackles ward redistricting

Youngstown redistricting
After voters overwhelmingly approved a charter amendment in November, city council is now preparing to redraw the city's seven wards.

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Youngstown leaders started discussing Monday how to go about redistricting the city’s seven wards.

Voters approved a city charter amendment in November that now reads “council shall redistrict the city, after there’s been a reasonable population change, based on federal census data.”

Boundary lines for Youngstown’s wards haven’t changed in more than 30 years despite major population declines and shifts. With 66,979 people living in Youngstown at the time of the 2010 census, the even population for the district’s seven wards would be 9,568.

The new map will be based on 2010 census data, which shows the following population for each ward:

  • 1st: 9,123
  • 2nd: 8,374
  • 3rd: 8,764
  • 4th: 12,130
  • 5th: 10,051
  • 6th: 7,227
  • 7th: 11,310

That data shows that 7,227 people live in the 6th ward, while more than 12,000 residents call the 4th ward home. The gap may be even wider now than it was when the census was taken.

“I do understand that maybe the population has not only dwindled a little bit more than it was in the 2010 census, but you know, maybe population shift has happened,” said 7th Ward Councilman John Swierz.

Council members said it’s something they want to get done this year, but it’s going to take some time.

“The constituents voted overwhelmingly for this to happen, so we need to move forward quicker than later,” said 5th Ward Councilman Paul Drennen.

A couple sample maps were presented to council by Youngstown State University’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies. Council-as-a-whole will invite the people who drew up the maps to its next meeting.

“They were all done by population base, but one used the lines of existing precincts, and the other used the lines of existing census block groups,” said Youngstown Community Development Director Bill D’Avignon.

There are lots of unanswered questions and council members said it’s going to take time to discuss how to balance the wards based on population, geography, economics and keeping neighborhoods intact.

Swierz said council should take its time, but Drennen disagreed.

“We probably should have met earlier on this, but we’re in the timeline. We said we would have this done by the end of 2013, so that’s when we should have this done and voted on,” Drennen said.

Another meeting is scheduled for next month.

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