Gerrymandering 101

Results of the State Senator race between John Boccieri and Micheal Rulli proves that Mahoning and Columbiana counties should NOT be lumped together in the same Ohio district.

It was NOT a close race. Rulli won Columbiana by a higher percentage than Boccieri won Mahoning, so Rulli will represent both counties here in Ohio.

That reveals something noticed years ago… the majority of people in these two counties do NOT think alike. They have their own ways of looking at things, their own ways of doing things, how they interact with other people, etc. It’s a strange phenomenon that I didn’t know about until I moved from Columbiana county to Trumbull county (which aligns more with Mahoning) before moving to Youngstown.

I’m NOT saying that one is better than the other, just saying that how people view things is so different that we would all be BETTER REPRESENTED if our state senate districts lines were redrawn.

Welcome to Gerrymandering 101.
How would you redraw the lines?

I would combine Mahoning with Trumbull County, then slide Columbiana County down to join with two house districts (with more like minded people) to the south.

RULE: one Ohio Senate district is a combo of 3 Ohio House districts, so you can’t just draw random lines.

NOTE: map created by cut & paste from gov maps.

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All that (above) is a cut & paste of what I posted on Facebook yesterday. No one wanted to play. Perhaps some were thrown a bit back? I have friends and family in both counties, but no one even weighed in with a thought about the differences. Maybe some were offended.

I was going to take it down, but an anonymous someone had shared it so I didn’t want to be rude.

If you happen to live in one of those counties and question the idea of people being so different that all would be better represented in the Ohio Senate if the lines were redrawn, I invite you to observe for yourself. It’s easy to do… just go shopping at stores in both counties. Pay attention to who speaks to you. Then talk to strangers in crowded stores, pay attention to facial expressions and body languages.

People in Columbiana county generally only speak to other locals… familiar faces, those they know, and those assumed to be other local people. If an outsider speaks to them in a crowded store, they might reply, but a momentary flicker of uneasiness might cross their face. You can almost see them thinking, “Who are you? What do you want? Why are you speaking to me?” It’s an Appalachian influence. There are a lot of “hill people” in Columbiana county. They will give the shirt off their back to one of their own, but they tend to be leery of outsiders.

Go north to the diversely populated urban areas in Mahoning or Trumbull county where it is “normal” to be open and friendly with everyone. Most people talk to strangers, strike up conversations in store aisles and checkout lines, they talk to people everywhere they go.

That’s one of the first things I noticed when I moved to Warren. I had strangers walking up to me grocery stores, striking up conversations over produce. “Look at the price on these tomatoes!” I’ve even been serenaded by strangers, old men bursting into song when I’ve pulled into a gas station with the top down on my convertible (miss that car). I also noticed that people are more accepting of human imperfections. Put it this way, I have NEVER heard anyone yell “hey fat ass” or other profanity laced insults out their car windows at me while I was just walking down a street in Trumbull or Mahoning county.

The difference became even more clearer after moving back to Salem in Columbiana county after I became disabled. The ONLY people who talked to me in stores or other public places were the people who remembered me from years before. Others treated me like an outsider. Even the neighbors in my apartment building were not too friendly. They rarely spoke to me. Even when I fell in the yard, they sat on their balconies watching a taxi driver retrieve the wallet I accidentally tossed when my legs wobbled out from under me as if it were a free show, get the popcorn, don’t say a word.  The one woman who became my only friend there was also an outsider who had moved there from New Jersey.  After a couple years, I was so glad to move to Youngstown, where I could talk to people without getting snubbed by odd looks. And, I could walk into a store without overhearing whispered insults about me, my body, my clothes, how I walk, or whatever.

That’s just ONE aspect of differences… politically, people who are open and friendly and more accepting of diversity also tend to be more open minded, more liberal, and more likely to vote for Democrats.

If you look at any political map after any election, this phenomenon could be the reason urban areas in red states are blue. It also might explain why some voters in red areas respond well to fear based tactics.

Thanks for reading!

Black & White

“I’m not black,” said DJ, age ye 11. “I’m Indian, Puerto Rican, white, and black.”

I’m not white. I am low Irish, dirty Dutch, Johnny Bull, and a squelch of Welsh. And that’s just on my father’s side, and worded as my grandmother told me.

The child is right. Cultural diversity cannot be summed up into one word based on general assumptions, predominant features, skin tones, accents, or language. White this, black that, anyone who speaks Spanish must be from Mexico… but that is what racial profiling does.

True, culture and race are not the same thing. I learned that on my first Thanksgiving away from home. Those white people ate some really weird food, traditional holiday fare for their heritage, which was completely different than what is traditional in mine.

Just saying we need to be more open minded, to stop trying to fence people into tidy little check boxes.  Life is not monotone. Take this color photograph, snapped in downtown Youngstown by DJ last summer. At first glance, it looks like a black and white image. It’s not.

Photo credit: DJ 2014

Photo credit: DJ 2014