Cleveland City Council has approved a new district map that cuts the number of council members from 19 to 17. ideastream’s Nick Castele reports the vote came after hours of discussion about neighborhood representation and some criticism over process.
The size of Cleveland’s city council is tied to population. Since 2008, Cleveland has lost about 50,000 people -- largely from the east side. In this latest ward map, east side ward boundaries were stretched west in an attempt to even out the number of people represented by each council member.
During a three hour hearing prior to the vote, council members described trying to preserve some neighborhoods from being split by the new ward boundaries.
Councilman Mike Polensek voted no to the new map, saying afterward that he didn’t agree with dividing communities.
POLENSEK: “There’s two areas of the city that got hurt: downtown and the northeast side. And that’s just the reality.”
His ward will now include parts of Glennville -- but it will lose parts of Collinwood.
Joe Cimperman voted no, too. Territory he currently represents in Tremont and parts of downtown will become parts of other wards.
Power to draw districts rested with the council president Martin Sweeney, who has been criticized for devising the new map behind closed doors.
There was other criticism, too. José Feliciano, a lawyer who chairs the Hispanic Roundtable, said at the meeting that the ward map underrepresented Hispanics.
FELICIANO: “Even though this city is declining in population, it is increasing in Hispanics. Currently, there are no Hispanic councilmen. None.”
In his opinion, the new map risks violating the Voting Rights Act. The consultant who helped draw up the boundaries said he’d done his best to incorporate Hispanics, and he believed the map was defensible.