Ohio Redistricting Commission adds Federal mediators to work with mapmakers

Posted at 5:40 PM, Mar 22, 2022

COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Monday, the Ohio Redistricting Commission added two more people to the map-making process with the addition of independent map makers to work with their staff on creating new legislative districts. On Tuesday, they accepted the help of two more in the form of Federal mediators from the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

The two, Catherine Geyer and Scott Coburn, bring to the process something that had been lacking, neutral third parties with no stake in the outcome.

"We see our primary role as problem-solving with parties. We're not solving the problem, it's you solving the problem," Coburn told the commission members. "Much of what we do is create an environment."

They won't be drawing the maps, that will be up to the independent mapmakers and staff and when the mapmakers reach an impasse they still won't be the ones breaking the ties.

"Our goal as mediators is not to determine whose right or wrong, it's not to render a verdict or a judgment as a court or a jury would do, it's not to impose solutions on anyone," said Geyer. "Many people say mediators manage the process and the parties manage the solutions."

There is one positive impact for taxpayers as Co-Chair Sen. Vernon Sykes asked how much their services would cost the state? Nothing, Geyer told him. "We're on loan from the court. We're the best bargain you'll have."

The independent mapmakers are expected to arrive Wednesday and begin work. The seven commission members will be tied up Wednesday with Governor Mike DeWine's State of the State address, his first in three years because of the pandemic. The commission will meet again at 7 p.m. Thursday, 2 p.m. Friday, and 4 p.m. on Saturday to get daily updates on the progress.

This fourth set of maps is due to the State Supreme Court on Monday.