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OLBC President Rep. West statement after Republicans release Statehouse map proposal

September 10, 2021
Thomas West News

COLUMBUS– Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) President Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) today issued the following statement after the Sept. 9 morning and afternoon meetings of the Ohio Redistricting Commission, at which the Ohio House and Senate Republicans’ proposal for state legislative maps was submitted, discussed, and voted upon:

“While we are still taking the time to do our due diligence and review the map proposed yesterday, OLBC sees cause for serious concern. We heard that Republican map drawers were told directly by their legislative leaders not to consider racial and demographic data in creating their maps, and we also heard that their partisan analysis of the maps is still ‘ongoing.’ 

“As Commission Co-Chair Sen. Sykes said in yesterday’s hearing, both of those issues make the GOP proposal incomplete, and thus it is very difficult to say whether the maps pass constitutional muster. It is hard to believe that the map drawers’ partisan analysis is still ‘ongoing’ and that those offering the map do not know what the outcomes would be for both parties. What’s more, the Ohio Constitution and federal law require map drawers to consider whether communities of color have adequate and real pathways to political representation.

“For Republican leadership to have directed their map drawers to ignore something as fundamentally essential, never mind constitutionally required, as ensuring that Ohio’s communities of color get the political representation they deserve is frankly appalling.

“As we continue to review this proposal and hear testimony from Ohioans, we must ensure that the spirit and the letter of the 2015 constitutional reforms are respected in the maps we put forward. All communities are entitled to the same fair and equal representation.”

After Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) offered the House and Senate Republicans’ map proposal yesterday morning, the Commission in its afternoon hearing voted on party lines to introduce the proposal for further consideration. 

Commission Co-Chair and House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) also announced at the afternoon hearing the following public hearings on the newly proposed map:

·         Sunday, Sept. 12 at 4 p.m. in Dayton (Washington Township Recreation Center 895 Miamisburg Centerville Rd. Dayton, OH 45459)

·         Monday, Sept. 13 at 4 p.m. in Cleveland (Corporate College East Super Conference Room (Room 126) 4400 Richmond Road Warrensville Heights, OH 44128)

·         Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 10 a.m. in Columbus (Ohio House Finance Hearing Room (Room 313) Ohio Statehouse 1 Capitol Square Columbus, Ohio 43215-4275)

·         Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 10 a.m. in Marietta (Washington State Community College 710 Colegate Drive Marietta, Ohio 45750)

The Ohio Redistricting Commission is required by the Ohio Constitution to adopt a state legislative district map by Sept. 15. At this point, the Commission may approve the map either for 10 years with minority party support or for four years without minority party support.