Youngstown Council discusses redistricting

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In November, Youngstown voters approved charter amendments, including one that calls for the redistricting of the city’s seven wards.

On Wednesday, City Council held a meeting on the issue. It was the second meeting on redistricting in the past five weeks, with no discussions held prior to that. 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.”

The city’s boundaries have not been redrawn since 1980 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

A representative from the Youngstown State University Department of Urban Studies prepared some maps and options for council members to review. At this time, council must redistrict the city into seven equal wards.

“They’re way out of whack for the 1980 boundaries. Some wards have 32 percent more people, other wards have 26 percent less people than you would need for an equal distribution,” said Thomas Finnerty, associate director of YSU’s Center for Urban Studies. “You do what you can, but in the end it has to be balanced people. You try to keep geographies intact, but that’s not always possible. In the end, it has to be seven wards of equal numbers of people.”

Any talk of eliminating wards would have to come from a new charter amendment and ballot initiative. Another meeting is set for August.

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