(Map from the Canton Repository)
The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Board voted last week to support the passage of Issue 2. There are a lot of good reasons to support this legislation including the current broken system and that this is a step in the right direction. You can find many good reasons to vote for Issue #2 on the Voters First website (www.votersfirstohio.com). But our main reason for supporting this issue is the destructive nature of the the two new Congressional districts in Cleveland. The most offensive district is #9 which extends from Toledo to the West Side of Cleveland, and District 11 which snakes through Cuyahoga and Summit Counties to bring every possible African American into one district. These two districts will make it difficult for one representative to respond to constituents in such a diverse number of communities. How are their local Congressional staff supposed to respond to a constituent who has an issue with the veterans administration when they are spread out representing rural, urban, suburban neighborhoods over five different counties?
The last districts with Kaptur's current district 9 extending over four counties was not fair with Latourette's current district extending over three diverse counties. But this new map makes it impossible to effectively represent the City of Cleveland. These both were drawn entirely for political purposes. Anything has to be better than this current process for drawing the Congressional maps. This current system is like each year the home team in baseball gets to set their own strike zone and can change the rules to the game of baseball at will. The away team has to live with the rules of the home team until they get to their own stadium. It is absolutely unfair system that rewards extremism and candidates unwilling to compromise, because their district will not be competitive. This is the reason that the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless supports issue 2. We urge our members to vote yes on Issue 2.
How does this issue have anything to do with homeless people? The only way that we will ever end homelessness is with the support and funding from the federal government. We need federal elected officials who can roll up their sleeves and work on solving problems. These gerrymandered districts do not foster cooperation or legislative leaders pushing out local agenda at the national level. Every vote feeds into political positioning for a party takeover of the Supreme Court and the next Presidential election. We do not talk about housing solutions, foreclosures, homelessness, poverty solutions, and protecting the civil rights of the vulnerable with such extreme partisan districts. Affordable housing and homelessness are federal issues with the $22 million coming every year from the federal government to fund the shelters and housing vouchers fro homeless people to say nothing about the hundreds of millions more for public housing and other affordable housing opportunities in Cleveland. Issue 2 should restore balanced and competitive Congressional districts that are drawn for best interest of constituents instead of the best interest of one political party.
This post reflects the opinion of the Board of Trustees of NEOCH