All political districts must be resized after each census to equalize population, and partisan scheming often plays a leading role. Fortunately, the Akron City Council is considering a new map for its 10 wards that places a high priority on unifying neighborhoods, especially Highland Square, currently split among four wards. The new boundaries haven’t pleased everyone, but Marco Sommerville, the council president, has succeeded in creating wards that reflect the city’s strong neighborhood loyalties.
The big change is a new Ward 1, including Highland Square and extending into downtown Akron and part of the University of Akron area. Ideally, downtown and the university area would be in one ward, but that was complicated by keeping a minority-majority district for Ward 5 incumbent Kenneth Jones. Under the new map, his district snakes through the central part of the city.
Jim Hurley, the Ward 1 incumbent, and Bruce Kilby, who represents Ward 2, were put together in a new Ward 2, which includes North Hill and Chapel Hill. Kilby and his allies argue the move was punishment. Actually, the changes were triggered by the laudable goal of creating a ward for Highland Square. More, in Ward 2, Kilby still would have many of his old precincts.
His alternative? A small adjustment could land him in Ward 10 — where he would face a tougher race against Garry Moneypenny.
No redistricting plan pleases everyone. The virtue in this plan is the more accurate reflection of the city’s neighborhood structure, while keeping most wards largely intact.
As originally published, this editorial erred in citing the number of wards in Akron. The above editorial has been corrected.