Cleveland City Council wards redrawn, maps released Monday

10:58 PM, Mar 22, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- The final map of Cleveland City Council's newest wards is due out Monday.

A population drop in the latest census means redistricting is due, cutting the number of wards from 19 to 17. But where the new lines may fall have many upset at City Hall.

"Seventeen wards are going to be created, and all the current wards are going to be adjusted, just some more than others," said Council President Martin Sweeney.

The proposed adjustments, made by Sweeney and outside consultants behind closed doors, are drawing scrutiny from council members and their constituents.

The city charter is pretty simple, requiring approximately one ward for every 25, 000 people. But where to draw the districts is not such an easy formula.

State Senator Shirley Smith has asked Attorney General Mike DeWine, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty and Cleveland Law Interim Director Barbara Langhenry to look into the legality of the process. Smith says redrawing boundaries.

"We don't want to see neighborhoods cut up like a Thanksgiving Day turkey," said Mike Polensek, who represents Ward 11. "That does nothing for us to stabilize our community."

Councilman Polensek has heard the East Side wards, that have lost the most population, are spilling west and neighborhoods like Colinwood and Glenville getting split up.

"That's not right and I've been here long enough to point to one neighborhood after another where they've done that. And where those neighborhoods have declined," he said.

In one draft, Downtown, now part of Councilman Joe Cieperman's Ward 3, is dissected into three seats.

On the west side, retiring Councilman Jay Westbrook's Ward 16 will likely be absorbed in the process.

"Some folks that live in a ward have a sense of pride," said Sweeney in an interview, explaining no wards would be outright eliminated. But that's the point Polensek thinks Sweeney is missing. Polensek says he'd like to see less politics, more public input on the process.

Council has to vote on the new map by April 1. Then voters will elect council members for each seat this fall.

"Is it going to be easier? Probably not. Is it going to be more efficient? Sure, with less council people you have less bureaucracy," said Channel 3 political analyst and former Congressman Dennis Eckart.

Monday Sweeney is expected to release the plan on paper, and then as many as three special meetings could be held next week to discuss the new boundaries and vote.


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