While this is not a move to voting ‘wards’, where residents of a section of a community elect a representative for that specific area, the new Columbus City Council district map threatens always upset the members of the council for the next elections in 2023.
On the one hand, the new map, chosen from three options offered by a five-member citizen advisory group known as the Council Residential District Commission, divides the city into nine council districts. This means that two new members will be added to the current seven member board.
On the other hand, the move to the new constituency system – approved by voters in 2018 to achieve greater geographic diversity – allows a single council member to reside in each constituency, even though the entire city can vote for each candidate. as is currently the case.
This will potentially force Board Chair Shannon Hardin, Pro President Tem Elizabeth Brown and Member Shayla Favor to compete in a race only one can win. Indeed, the three board members currently reside in District 7, which encompasses Downtown, Franklinton, the Near East Side, the Short North, and other areas south of Ohio State University.
Even though he was never discussed during the debate at the December 13 meeting that three current board members reside in the same district under the map that the board unanimously approved, “they sure knew,” said Paul Beck, professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State University.
All three versions of the maps proposed by the district commission had Hardin and Favor – neighbors who live blocks from each other on the Near East Side, near Franklin Park – in the same neighborhood. Only the one chosen by the council also placed Brown in the same district, creating what now appears to be a three-way race to retain a seat on the council.
Beck said it was very interesting “that they went for this particular card” because Hardin and Brown both “are top flight,” progressives who seem to have ambitions for higher positions.
Hardin’s name is regularly dropped in speculation as a potential future Columbus mayoral candidate, Beck said, while Brown could one day seek federal office, following in his father’s footsteps. US Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat who is the Senior Senator from Ohio.
Council member Brown launched an offer earlier this year to get appointed to the Franklin County Board of Commissioners. However, Democratic State Representative Erica Crawley edged Brown in securing more votes for the Franklin County Democratic Party Central Committee nomination, 63-54.
Hardin and Brown are currently the most senior members of city council. Hardin is president, and his political mentor is the former mayor of Columbus and Democratic Power Broker Michael B. Coleman. Brown is interim president, which means she takes on Hardin’s leadership role when he’s out. She is also the chair of the finance committee, perhaps the most important committee of the council as it oversees the city’s spending.
Favor was appointed to city council on January 14, 2019 to serve the unexpired term of Jaiza Page, who was newly elected a judge of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. Prior to joining the board, Favor worked in the office of Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein as the city’s deputy attorney assigned to environmental lawsuits involving harmful property in a certain area of the city.
For Hardin, Brown and Favor, being crammed into the same residential neighborhood leaves them with options: running against the other incumbents in District 7, as well as any other resident who can get enough signatures to participate in the 2023 poll in the district; move to another part of the city in a politically less overcrowded neighborhood; or not running for city council, which could include running for another political office.
Neither Hardin, Brown nor Favor are reportedly discussing their plans for 2023 at this time when contacted by The Dispatch.
“I haven’t started thinking about the 2023 election,” Hardin said in a statement, adding that his immediate concerns include the city’s 2022 vacation and budget.
Favor said in a statement that she is currently “squarely focused on solving the Columbus housing crisis and securing our neighborhoods.
“The district commission had a clear task as defined by the city charter, which was to draw nine districts that were the best geographic representation of the city of Columbus,” Brown said in an email.
“We are a large, diverse city, and the charter amendment safeguards only had the narrowest tolerance for population variation, so all of the final cards had full members together,” a- she declared.
Equally intriguing about the new district map is that no current or elected member taking office next year lives in four of the nine new districts. This means that these areas are widely open to any resident to attempt to get elected to the council.
If someone is not elected in a district by the voters, the other council members will appoint a resident of that district to sit on the body.
While it seems unlikely that any of these districts will run for office, Columbus – the largest city in Ohio with over 900,000 residents – could only muster four candidates in the November ballot for three open council seats. And that was after the city went through disruption and COVID warrants, a fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a city police officer, a second consecutive year of record-breaking homicides, settlements of millions of dollars paid for police abuse of force during the 2020 protests and other controversies.
The currently open council districts are Districts 2 and 6, located primarily on the Far West Side between Grove City and Hilliard, with a thin slice of District 2 of the city running through Hilliard and Upper Arlington along Highway 33 to include areas north of these towns .; District 1, which surrounds Worthington to the west, north and east; and District 5, which runs primarily on the northeast side between New Albany and Westerville and extends southwest around Gahanna to Interstate 670 near John Glenn Columbus International Airport.
The other four city council members – current incumbents Rob Dorans and Emmanuel Remy, and elected members Nick Bankston and Lourdes Barroso de Padilla, who will take office next month after winning in November – each are the only members living in their new neighborhoods. This means that they won’t have to fight each other, but may still have to face a future opponent.
Dorans and Remy live in Districts 3 and 4 respectively. Elected members Barroso de Padilla and Bankston live in Districts 8 and 9 respectively.
To view the new map of the nine municipal housing districts online, go to https://columbus.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=7db35f3529294a6d8eaff9dac0958189. By checking the boxes on the side, you can add layers to the map to include public places, City of Columbus schools, City police and fire stations, Franklin County polling stations, communities / city districts and the boundaries of regional commissions.
You can also view the three cards (A, B, C) and the three sets of changes that were made to them before the board finally chose Card A, set 3. The final board approved by the board changed the labels of the nine districts of the council. from letters AI to numbers.
If you click on each of the districts on the online map, you get a distribution of the population within that district, the deviation from the target population goal to equalize the nine districts, the population of voting age. and the racial makeup of this neighborhood.