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Syracuse voters to decide on Election Day who will redraw council district lines


On Election Day, voters in the city of Syracuse will decide who will draw the political lines that define Common Council districts in the future. Proposition One, if approved, will take the task out of the hands of politicians.

District lines haven’t changed in Syracuse in two decades, and Common Council President Helen Hudson said things have changed over that 20 years.

"We have districts that have influx of populations. I didn’t know the southside of Syracuse has a big Haitian population," Hudson said. "So we have populations that haven’t been taken into consideration."

The time to redraw districts comes after the upcoming 2020 census. It’s a job lawmakers have taken care of for years, according to the city charter. Proposition One would create a commission made up of community members to do the job instead, eliminating any political conflict of interest. Hudson said it’s about time politics came out of the process.

Credit Onondaga County Board of Elections
Voters in the city of Syracuse will find Proposition One on the back of their ballot on Election Day

"When you have politics involved and elected officials, they don’t want to lose their perceived power, they’re going to fight tooth and nail against it," said Hudson. "Our council was proactive, and we said 'yes, and we’ll leave it to the public to make the choice.'”

Hudson has been visiting neighborhoods, encouraging voters to support Proposition One.

"People aren’t interested in anything until it affects them. And right now it’s affecting them, because it’s their political power and economic power," she said. "Because we have marginalized communities because of some of the way these districts are drawn."

If Proposition One passes and Syracuse makes the change, it would be the first city east of the Mississippi to resort to this non-partisan way of creating district lines.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.