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Politics and Government

Low turnout sparks criticism at Onondaga County redistricting public hearing

onondaga_county_districts_map.jpg
Onondaga County Legislature

Of the roughly 460,000 residents in Onondaga County, about a dozen showed up to the first of a series of public hearings Friday about the legislative redistricting process in the county. Of that dozen or so, only seven spoke, and for those speakers, that in itself was the problem.

“Look at the crowd today. 10, 12, 15 people out of how many in the county,” said one Clay resident.

He added that the only reason he could even come to the hearing on Friday was that he was retired.

“11 a.m. is nice for me because I'm retired and I can be here,” he said. “It's not for most people who are working today and cannot be here.”

Many speakers felt the timing of this hearing was indicative of the whole redistricting process. One Cicero man said everything just felt rushed.

“We're cramming all of this into a time period that seems artificial,” he said. “It doesn't seem transparent.”

He suggested waiting until after elections to begin any sort of conversation about redistricting.

“Let the people decide who is going to run this county then make the decisions on redistricting. Not now, which is going to be a fait accompli for the Republicans,” he added.

One Liverpool woman agreed.

“The committee schedule was announced so abruptly that it minimizes public input and proper analysis of census data,” said the woman.

Several speakers pointed fingers at the Republicans on the Reapportionment Committee, specifically legislature chairman Dave Knapp, for rushing the process. One woman even spoke directly to Knapp, and only Knapp, at the hearing.

“This is our democracy,” she said. “This is our country. This is our democracy. It's ours. It's not yours. It's ours.”

Others suggested Republicans have been trying to gerrymander the legislative districts to keep hold of their seats.

Many of the comments made at the hearing echoed previously made comments by Democratic Elections Commissioner, Dustin Czarny, who sits on the committee. He’s been very outspoken about his criticism of the rushed redistricting process so far.

Czarny said their first drafts of new legislative district maps are due starting on October 27. The next public hearing will be held that evening, October 27 at 6 p.m. at the Onondaga County Legislature chambers in Syracuse.