YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Emotions ran high at Wednesday night’s Youngstown City Council special meeting.
“This council has been going a year with this. And every time a solution is brought forth, there is not any type of an agreement,” former mayor and current Council President Chuck Sammarone said.
He was referring to the redistricting of the city’s seven wards, which has not been done for nearly 30 years. The city charter calls for it to be done after every census so the wards are evenly divided based on population.
“And I do believe we could have done better and when we can do better, we should,” 6th Ward Councilwoman Janet Tarpley said.
After a year and several thousand dollars later, council members are being forced to make a decision on how the seven council members’ wards will be outlined.
“Everybody has an opinion and we respect those opinions. We don’t have to agree with them,” Sammarone said.
Failed agreements were made between council members after Youngstown State University was paid approximately $8,000 to draw a map with new outlines.
Members of city council then tried to get a private contractor to draw up another new map, but Mayor John McNally denied that request. Tarpley said she is worried that decision will cost the city in the long run.
“If we would have entered into a contract with a company that does this all the time, who are experts with this, we would have made sure we covered all of the laws,” she said.
But, the Mahoning County Board of Elections put a map together for the council members free of charge.
“We were just doing it as an advisory situation to help them,” Mahoning County Board of Elections Director Joyce Kale-Pesta said.
The Board of Elections now will make minor adjustments to the map. Council is expected to vote on it at Monday’s City Council meeting.
“Some way it has to be worked out where the majority of council makes the rules here,” Sammarone said, reminding them that only four votes are needed to pass the current map.
If all seven vote in favor of the map on Monday, it will pass immediately. If its only a majority, it will have three hearings before it’s passed.