Results of new district line has some officials wondering if politics, not census numbers, are at work

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

WESTMORELAND, N.Y. (WKTV) - Every ten years, congressional, state senate, and assembly districts must be re-drawn to correspond to census numbers, and on Thursday, the entity charged with making the changes, released its proposed maps.

If they are approved, some big changes are in store for local residents.

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.

“Much of my current district is contained within these boundaries - the main additions come in Delaware County, which borders my home county of Otsego where residents share many of the same concerns, and in Cayuga County, where I have served previously and welcome the chance to become reacquainted with many old friends," Seantor Seward said. " While I am disappointed to lose some areas where I have developed close bonds, overall, I am pleased with the new 51st.”

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 part of northern Oneida County.

"This is a first draft in what will be a long, arduous process in getting these lines drawn," Assembylman Butler said. "There are a lot of cohesive issues among the towns in the new proposed district, but it's almost impossible for one person to represent the whole area."

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.

Assemblywoman Tenney is confused and shocked with the proposed redistricting lines of the New York State Legislative Task Force on Redistricting. The proposed new district lines has her representing parts of Oneida, Herkimer, Otsego, Albany, Schoharie, Columbia, and Greene counties.

Looking at what would be her new district lines completely chopped up, Assemblywoman Tenney says she can't help but wonder if it is gerrymandering.

She says that while she would love to represent the Herkimer, Otsego, or any of those proposed counties, she finds it bizarre that other districts, like democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi's, are almost identical aside from adding one town.

Her theory is that it has to do with politics.

"On Monday, I'm getting the award from the State Conservative Party as the most conservative member of the state legislature. I also happen to be a woman," says Tenney. "I'm one of the few who's being pitted, the only one...Pete Lopez and I are being pitted together, so am I being targeted because I'm a conservative woman?"

Tenney also wonders how the change would benefit the people of Oneida County and her current 115th Assembly District.

"I really think to split Oneida County up into five or six assembly districts is really problematic," says Tenney. "I think it takes away the uniformity. I think it denies the citizens of having consistent representation."

However, since these redistricting plans are all just preliminary, she's hopeful there will be changes.

Tenney says she will be going to a public hearing on the redistricting January 30 at the State Legislative Office to hear explanation on the big change.

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