Former SE Ohio Congressman Calls For Third Party In Redistricting Debate

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A former southeast Ohio congressman says a third party needs to examine the state's redistricting plan.

Lawmakers approved a bill this week establishing new congressional boundaries that Democrats and voter advocates say favor ruling Republicans.

The maps were drawn to reflect the loss of two U.S. House seats as Ohio's population grew slower than other states' over the past decade.

Former 6th District Democratic Congressman Charlie Wilson disagrees with the new bill and says having a neutral party involved with the redistricting process would be the way to go.

"I think to have someone that is removed from the process, like the League of Women Voters, that, I think, would be more important and would serve a better purpose," says Wilson.

But Athens County Republican Party Chair Pete Couladis doesn't see a problem with the way things work now.

"The people who are criticizing are the Democrats. And if they were in control would they have gerrymandered something to their advantage. I'm sure they would have and they have in the past. Now that doesn't justify it but that's the system that we have. The legislature draws up the districts and that's what's required," says Couladis.

The Senate added $2.75 million to the bill for local elections boards, a move aimed at protecting the map from a threatened Democratic repeal.

Opponents contend that the map was drawn behind closed doors to protect Republican's majority in Ohio's congressional delegation.

The map groups three pairs of U.S. representatives into districts.

Republicans say it follows all population and demographic requirements.

Governor John Kasich says he will sign the bill.