Some voters in Southwest Ohio will see substantial changes, some none at all, and some only a change in their legislative district’s number under new state House and Senate maps the Ohio Redistricting Commission approved on a 5-2 party-line vote right at the constitutional deadline of midnight Wednesday.
The commission’s five Republican members all voted for the new maps; the absence of Democratic support means they are only valid for four years. Both sides anticipated swift litigation.
Mark Owens, chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, noted that Gov. Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Auditor Keith Faber expressed reluctance to vote for the map presented by Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima.
“They played with our lines here, split up neighborhoods in the city of Dayton and all across Montgomery County,” Owens said. “I fully expect it’ll go to the Supreme Court, and I hope the Supreme Court will throw it out, as well they should.”
Republicans were more receptive to the new maps, such as Butler County Republican Party Chairman Todd Hall.
“It’s surprising that Butler County was redistricted, given that Butler continues to grow while other parts of Ohio decline in population,” he said. “However, I think the lines will still allow our constituents very excellent representation based on the new maps, and I like the continuity of maintaining three House districts and one Senate district.”
Many of the region’s 16 representatives and five senators didn’t respond immediately to messages seeking comment, but others gave their takes on the revisions. Here is a breakdown of the changes:
House (current districts)
District 39: Now held by Rep. Willis Blackshear, D-Dayton, it will be renumbered as District 38. The district is losing Dayton’s western suburbs to what has been District 43, now renumbered as District 39.
In exchange, a new District 38 appears to gain slightly in the northeast from the current districts 40 and 41.
District 40: Renumbered as District 35, it’s now held by state Rep. Phil Plummer, R-Butler Twp. Due to its population growth, it will lose northeast Dayton to the new District 38, but no other changes are evident.
District 41: The current district of state Rep. Andrea White, R-Kettering, will be renumbered as District 36. It is becoming more compact by gaining a bit of southwest Kettering but losing territory on its north and south ends.
District 42: The district of Rep. Tom Young, R-Washington Twp., will become District 37 as it loses Moraine and West Carrollton but now covers all of Centerville.
“My district’s pretty much the same district I had before,” Young said. Centerville is in Washington Twp., where he has lived for 20 years and already knows the people well, he said. But Young thinks legal challenges may force the map to be redrawn.
“I don’t think we’ll know until the courts decide,” he said.
District 43: The district held by state Rep. Rodney Creech, R-West Alexandria, will now be called District 39. Its coverage of Preble County is unchanged, but the new map adds the southwestern edge of Dayton while trimming a western section of Montgomery County.
District 51: Renumbered as District 44, the territory of state Rep. Sara Carruthers, R-Hamilton, sheds Fairfield and Ross in exchange for Oxford in Butler County. Fairfield is being transferred to the new District 45, currently held by state Rep. Jennifer Gross, R-West Chester.
“I can tell you for myself I’m very saddened to lose a great deal of Fairfield,” Carruthers said. “I love Ross, and I have worked very hard for both of those areas. I don’t think Fairfield and Hamilton have been really split up since the 1950s.”
Carruthers plans to seek a third House term in the reconfigured district, and said she’ll not only work to meet constituents in her new areas but will seek to help Gross in Fairfield.
District 52: The territory of Gross, renumbered as District 45, is seeing many changes. Instead of a roughly square territory on the southeastern corner of Butler County, it will become a strip along the county’s southern end. A new District 46 will hold the area to the northeast that Gross previously represented.
District 53: The district now held by state Rep. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Twp., will be carved up into newly numbered districts 39, 44, 45 and 46. District 46 would appear to be the new version of District 53, but will occupy only the northeastern side of Butler County – including Middletown, taken from District 54 to the east.
District 54: The district number isn’t changing for Rep. Paul Zeltwanger, R-Mason, but his district will lose Middletown in Butler County while keeping Mason and Lebanon.
District 62: To be called District 55, the territory of Rep. Scott Lipps, R-Franklin, will lose a small portion in the center of Warren County to District 54 but is otherwise unchanged.
District 73: The district of state Rep. Brian Lampton, R-Beavercreek, in western Greene County will be renumbered as District 70. It will lose Yellow Springs in the north but gain Spring Valley in the south.
District 74: The district covering eastern Greene County, most of Madison County and the east end of Clark County will trade Yellow Springs for Spring Valley with the former District 73, and swap land in southern Clark County for a similar amount in the county’s north. It’s currently held by state Rep. Bill Dean, R-Xenia.
District 79: The district centered on Springfield will be renumbered as District 75. Held by state Rep. Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield, it will gain territory in northern Clark County while losing some in southern Clark, in a swap with District 74.
District 80: The district that covers all of Miami County and the south end of Darke County will lose a bit of territory in Darke but keep its old number, and is otherwise unchanged. It’s held by state Rep. Jena Powell, R-Arcanum.
District 84: The district held by state Rep. Susan Manchester, R-Waynesfield, keeps its number. It will lose southern Mercer County on its west end while gaining territory to the northeast, and its southern boundary looks unchanged.
District 85: The district number will remain the same for state Rep. Nino Vitale, R-Urbana, while his district loses a bit off its western end. The new lines cover Champaign, Logan and Hardin counties entirely.
Vitale said he’s still studying the changes, but given the commission’s dispute over basic definitions of fairness, wonders if the map will have to be redrawn.
“I just think it’s going to continually get tougher and tougher to do this whole redistricting thing,” he said.
Senate (current districts)
District 4: State Sen. George Lang, R-West Chester, gains Middletown in exchange for a piece of northern territory.
“I still have most of Butler County so my district really didn’t change much,” he said.
District 5: State Sen. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, loses part of southwestern Montgomery County while gaining Vandalia, a bit of southern Darke County and northern Butler County. That gives him at least part of five counties now.
“I would characterize it as, I traded the Plummer district for the Blackshear district,” Huffman said, referring to the state House districts nested within his Senate district. “I have every intention to run for a second term in the Senate in ‘22, and I’ll need to get to know a new group of constituents.”
District 6: State Sen. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, gives up Vandalia to District 5 while gaining some land in the southwest.
“I look forward to continue serving in the Ohio General Assembly under the newly adopted district lines,” he said. “I’ll continue to fight every day to ensure Ohioans have the opportunity to achieve their American Dream.”
District 7: The district held by state Sen. Steve Wilson, R-Maineville, still covers Warren County and a strip of western Hamilton County but loses Middletown to District 4.
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