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Politics and Government

Syracuse councilors are against changes to redistricting process

NYS Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment

Syracuse lawmakers want to make the state’s redistricting process less political. City councilors are calling for the defeat of a statewide proposition on the ballot next week.

Proposition One, which voters will decide on next Tuesday, would amend the state constitution for how congressional, state Senate and Assembly districts are drawn.

As it works now, the legislature controls the process. Opponents say that leads to gerrymandered districts that favor incumbents and the party in the majority.

Proposition One would create a ten-person panel to decide redistricting, but the members would be picked by legislative leaders. Councilors want to see the redistricting process go even further toward independence.

"We need to have districts that are designed both with demographics and with a continuity of interests, so that people can vote in a particular election district with the same voice," said councilor Kathleen Joy.

Right now, Syracuse is represented by two different Senate and two different Assembly districts.

"The more we carve up the city of Syracuse, the less voice we have," said Joy, adding the oddly drawn state districts, many with a mix of urban and rural constituents, are tough for lawmakers to represent well. 

"Here’s Syracuse and we have our issues, very definitely we have our issues in our city," said councilor Jean Kessner. "But in the suburbs and in smaller cities that are outlined, they don’t have the same issues and they deserve the same representation that we do."

New district lines won't be redrawn again until after the 2020 census.