City council one step closer to approving ward changes in Youngs - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

City council one step closer to approving ward changes in Youngstown

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After about a year of haggling over how to best redraw the city's seven wards, it seems Youngstown City Council members may soon reach an agreement.

Council members met Wednesday evening for what is hopefully one of the last times regarding redistricting. They made some tweaks to how the wards will be drawn and members are expected to vote on the proposed map Monday.

Council President and Former Mayor Chuck Sammarone stressed to council members it is time to take action.

"This council has been going a year with this, and every time a solution is brought forward, there's not any type of agreement," said Sammarone.

The city is suppose to redistrict the wards every ten years but it hasn't done it in more than 30.

The Board of Elections presented their solution, at no charge to the city, which would successfully balance each ward with roughly the same population.

One controversial issue has been whether or not that population would include prisoners. Under the proposed map, inmates from the State Penitentiary and County Jail would be counted, but not those in the city's private prison.

"The private prison really has 75% that are illegal immigrants. Through immigration laws they really can not be counted for voting purposes," said Joyce Kale-Pesta, with the Mahoning County Board of Elections.

Still, some council members question whether it's a wise move to not include the roughly 2,000 prisoners.

"If the census counted them, then they probably should count them. Period. Truthfully, that's why we should have had a professional in here to go over a lot of these things with us. I think we are reasonable people but we want it done right," said First Ward Councilwoman Annie Gillam.

Despite her concerns, Councilwoman Gillam, along with other council members seem to be in favor of how the new wards were drawn. They suggested a couple minor changes and those will be made by the Board of Elections.

The new map will then made available to council before they vote Monday.

All seven council members said that with the minor tweaks that will be made to the map, they do plan to approve the new wards on Monday.


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