In some Perry Township neighborhoods, the boundary between the new 7th and 16th congressional districts goes right down subdivision streets. Delaware Avenue SW, north of Navarre Road SW, is one of them.
Although the “Timken peninsula” in Canton is arguably the most interesting feature of the new 16th Congressional District, the map has a couple other areas apparently at odds with the concepts of compactness and keeping communities whole.
One of the western boundaries of the 16th District, which could be represented by Republican congressman Jim Renacci of Wadsworth, goes north on Perry Drive SW from Faircrest in Perry Township. North of Navarre Road SW, the line makes an abrupt turn to the east on Oakvale Street SW.
It then goes north on Delaware Avenue SW, a typical subdivision street, three blocks up to Lynncrest Street SW. It then goes west on Lynncrest, north on Perry Drive, then zig-zags through a neighborhood southeast of Sippo Lake, cuts through the lake and then zig-zags northwest to the Jackson Township line.
Marge Bowman, 57, who lives on the southwest corner of Lynncrest and Delaware, will be one of 109 people on the western side of Delaware who will be in the 7th District.
“I think that’s horrible,” she said about the map. “Just living across the street from someone who has a different congressman? That’s wrong. We’re neighbors. We should be in the same congressional (district).”
On the east side of Delaware, which would be in the 16th District, Tivona Johnson, 36, thought it strange that the boundary between congressional districts would be on her little street.
“It’s a little weird that someone across the street will have a different congressman,” she said. “It doesn’t sound fair. ... it sounds like something that should be voted on by the people mostly affected by it.”
Mike Dittoe, spokesman for the Ohio House Republicans who drew the new district lines, said the boundary was moved east to Delaware Avenue apparently to help ensure each congressional district would have the same number of people to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Each of Ohio’s 16 districts under the map has 721,031 or 721,032 people.
Jim Slagle, manager for the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting, says the courts have allowed for some deviation to keep communities together in one district.
Much of the Perry Township portion of the 16th District is bound by Whipple Avenue to the east, Faircrest to the south and Perry Drive to the west. The rest of Perry Township and much of Stark County will be in the
7th District, which could be represented by Republican Congressman Bob Gibbs of Holmes County.
Perry Township Trustee Anna Capaldi wasn’t thrilled that her fellow Republicans divided her township.
“The goal should be to keep communities as connected as possible for the region. I don’t think anything should be done for political reasons. I think people will be confused,” she said. “The one good thing ... is we would have two people looking out for our community.”
Page 2 of 2 - Bruce Kirkbride, who lives on the 16th District side of Lynncrest, wasn’t too concerned.
“As long as every representative is looking after the community,” he said, “it doesn’t really bother me which district I’m in.”