WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) — It has been more than 20 years since the city of Warren restructured its wards, but now, population shifts and declines are forcing city officials to take action.
Redistricting is supposed to be done within a year after the census is complete. Warren is currently four years behind, but city officials released tentative maps outlining the new districts on Monday.
“We are just trying to even out the playing field,” said Warren 3rd Ward Councilman John Brown. “State law says you have to, our own city ordinances say you have to, and there have also been federal court cases that say the same.”
According to the 2010 census, the city of Warren has just over 41,000 people living within its limits, which is a loss of more than 5,000 in just a decade. John Bralich of the Youngstown State University Center for Urban and Regional Studies, who helped draft the new wards for the city, said the wards each have to contain roughly 5,900 people.
“On the west side there has been some population loss, so that is where the biggest difference is going to be with the new wards, particularly between the 6th and 7th ward,” Bralich said.
And while the boundary lines are going to change, the city will keep the same number of councilmen. That’s because it is a statutory city.
“A little over 10 years ago, we had eight and we went down to seven. Obviously, it would be looked upon if we had a population decrease that they would lose another, but it’s all strictly based on population,” said Warren City Law Director Greg Hicks.
Bralich said if the population continues to fall, it’s possible the city would have to eliminate a council member by the next census in 2020.
Council members are looking for public input in the redistricting process.
Brown said he hopes to have redistricting finished by this summer.