State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today expressed fundamental disagreement with Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s assessment of congressional redistricting reform. The Plain Dealer yesterday quoted Secretary Husted as claiming that “the congressional delegation in the end will have the call on whether or not [congressional redistricting] will happen. I don't believe that the legislature would ever force something on them that they would not accept.”
“It is patently false that we need to seek approval from congressional members for redistricting – the state legislature is the body that draws congressional districts,” said Rep. Boccieri, who served as U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 16th congressional district from 2009-2011.
Boccieri pointed to the 2001 statehouse-led redistricting process, which significantly gerrymandered congressional districts, as evidence of the political motivations behind the legislature’s constitutional authority.
“I’ve seen this process from both the inside and the outside and, as a member of the state legislature, I am frustrated with the way the statehouse has cut the Mahoning Valley’s congressional lines to make it harder to elect someone from our area,” Boccieri said. “Congressional districts should reflect the values of the communities they encompass, not be rigged to ensure partisan control.”
Boccieri has also affirmed his support for Sens. Frank LaRose and Tom Sawyer’s pledge to begin bipartisan talks on congressional redistricting reform, with the aim of changing the current constitutional mechanism for redrawing districts.
The Poland lawmaker’s comments come on the heels of the overwhelming passage of Issue 1 on the statewide ballot this past Tuesday. The initiative creates a process for redrawing state legislative districts in a fair and bipartisan manner.