Jack Cera named to panel to prevent gerrymandering

MARTINS FERRY — The Ohio House Democratic Caucus announced that state Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, has been appointed to a bipartisan panel of state legislators that will recommend solutions to prevent gerrymandering in the Buckeye State’s congressional districts.

Gerrymandering refers to drawing the boundaries of election districts to give one political party an advantage. Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative in 2015 to reform redistricting for statehouse districts, and the new panel will review and suggest reforms to the way Ohio draws districts for U.S. congressional seats.

“Our democracy is strongest when people feel like their vote counts, and that starts with putting an end to gerrymandering in Ohio,” Cera, D-Bellaire, said.

“We expect a process that is open, transparent and accountable to all public voices, groups and citizens who want change and progress. We need to put our political differences aside and do right by those who sent us here.”

The Ohio General Assembly is responsible for drawing congressional districts and bipartisan approval is not required.

This reportedly has allowed lawmakers to create “safe” seats for incumbents of both parties.

The redistricting panel will be made up of four lawmakers — two Republicans and two Democrats — who will review current congressional redistricting practices, gather input from the public and make recommendations to the General Assembly later this year, according to a statement from the Ohio House Democratic Caucus. Any action state lawmakers take would need approval from the voters, and a proposal could be placed on the statewide ballot as early as next year. Any redistricting changes made would be implemented in 2021, after the 2020 Census.

“Throughout his time at the Statehouse, Rep. Cera has been a voice for fairness and accountability,” said House Minority Leader Rep Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton. “His experience, knowledge and expertise will be invaluable to this group and to the taxpayers who want us to work together to deliver results.”

The other members of the group are state Sens. Vernon Sykes, D-Akron, and Matt Huffman, R-Lima and Rep. Kirk Schuring, R-Canton.

The redistricting panel is expected to begin meeting this month, although official dates and times have yet to be determined.