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Journalists: Political animosity, reapportionment must change
Decades ago, Ohio’s Republican and Democratic lawmakers would debate and craft legislation for hours and then later socialize together. The leaders tended to respect each other and not have the type of animosity found today in the statehouse, says a long-time political journalist.
“At the end of the day they would get together … they had fun and socialized together. As a result, they were able to come together more often and compromised more,” said Joe Hallett, who has covered politics for The Columbus Dispatch for decades. “(Today) Republicans don’t like Democrats and vice versa. It’s unfortunate.”
Hallett’s sentiment was shared by two other political reporters who talked about the state’s political and economic environment on OFBF's radio show Town Hall Ohio.
Term limits are preventing lawmakers from getting very much accomplished because six months into their position, they are already working on re-election plans, said Reginald Fields of The Plain Dealer.
“It’s clearly an ‘us versus them’ mentality and that gets in the way of being able to accomplish good policy,” he said.
Jo Ingles of Ohio Public Radio agreed, saying the political spin on legislation starts as soon as it is passed.
“It seems like the legislation itself is not the focus but how you spin it,” she said.
The three journalists said the reapportionment process is a major problem in Ohio. Every 10 years after the release of the U.S. Census, the state’s legislative district boundaries are redrawn. Whichever political party has a majority on the Apportionment Board controls how the map is redrawn, giving that political party’s candidates an advantage in elections.
“Voters are ultimately going to have to take matters in their hands and fix this system,” Hallett said, pointing out that the way the districts have been redrawn so far this year, Republicans have 12 safe seats and Democrats have four.
The three journalists said technology exists that can draw fair, competitive districts.