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Public hearing scheduled on re-districting proposal

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

NEW YORK STATE (WKTV) - On Tuesday, the public will have a chance to share their opinions on proposed new districting lines for New York State based on the 2010 Census.

District lines in the congressional, state senate, and assembly districts must be re-drawn every ten years to correspond to census numbers. If they are approved, many residents will see changes, changes that will be in place for the next ten years.

In the 47th District of the New York State Senate, the seat currently held by Joe Griffo remains pretty much the same, although it loses some southern Oneida County towns but gains some northern Oneida County towns.

The 51st Senate District, where Jim Seward is the incumbent, loses northern Herkimer County, while the rest of the district appears to be relatively in tact.

In the Assembly, the 116th District of Anthony Brindisi becomes the 119th District and adds the Herkimer County Town of Frankfort, but the rest remains the same.

Marc Butler's 117th District becomes the 118th District. Southern Herkimer and eastern Otsego Counties would no longer be part of this district, but would instead include part of northern Oneida County.

The biggest change would come to current 115th District Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, whose district would become the 102nd District and would only keep New Hartford and Paris from her current district, while adding southern Herkimer and Otsego Counties.

Upset with the proposed redistricting lines, Assemblywoman Tenney sent a letter to LATFOR saying that the new maps place politics over the best interests of Oneida County residents and that they rob citizens of their rights. Tenney is also urging residents to attend Tuesday's public hearing and to reject the proposed plan.

Tenney says she is afraid the new lines take seats away from Oneida County and upstate New York and is afraid the changes will fractionalize local representatives power and ability to represent effectively, as instead of 3 representatives in Oneida County, there will be 5.

"If the people were to run who have been assigned the new towns of Oneida County, one would be living in Jefferson County and the other in Schoharie County," Assemblywoman Tenney said. "So, the accessibility of being able to get to your representatives to see them in person, to meet with them, is going to be very difficult."

Tenney says she doesn't understand how the new lines follow LATFOR's criteria, which gives voters the right to effective representation, community cohesiveness, commonality of interest, geographical compactness, and equal-sized districts in redistricting.

Mary Chapin of the Utica-Rome League of Women Voters has similar views as Tenney and will be testifying against the proposed lines in Syracuse's public hearing. Chapin questions how the new lines will give effective representation to towns like New Hartford when combined in a district stretching into southern Herkimer and Otsego counties.

"It can't be (effective representation), because it's in with Central New York, the Leatherstocking region, the Capital region, Hudson region and Catskills. I don't know what we have in common," says Chapin.

Chapin also worries how assemblymembers like Claudia Tenney will be able to represent districts of many different town with different issues and interests hundreds of miles apart.

"I feel like that's the most important part of their representation, is to have something that they're all working on," says Chapin. "She can go from one town to another and they all understand the same problems, and perhaps can work on the same solutions. Not now."

The Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment will be meeting Tuesday at Henninger High School's Auditorium at 3 pm.on 600 Robinson Street.

If you'd like to submit testimony to the Task Force should fill out a public reply form online or contact Dina Weissman of the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research hand Reapportionment at 212-618-1101.

Maps of the new district lines can be found at latfor.state.ny.us/maps/

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