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Politics and Government

What’s next for new redistricting maps?

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New York State Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment
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Map of proposed congressional districts released by a state panel Sunday Jan. 30, 2022.

Some congressional lawmakers are already making announcements based on the proposed redistricting plan. The plan was compiled by a state task force after an independent panel was unable to reach a consensus.

Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford), whose district was essentially gerrymandered out, is planning to run in the newly redrawn 23rd district. Republican Rep. Tom Reed currently represents that district, but he plans to retire at the end of the year.

Grant Reeher, Director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship, said since the number of Democrats has been steadily increasing in New York state, he’s not surprised Tenney’s current district was split up.

"She is a particularly conservative Republican,” he said. “She's very much of a firebrand type and style, like former President Trump in some ways."

The current 24th district, represented by Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus), would be redrawn to become the 22nd district and will include the heavily blue cities of Syracuse and Ithaca. With Katko’s decision to retire at the end of the year, Reeher said the new district could be up for grabs for a moderate democrat.

"A Republican on the far right who's denying the legitimacy of the 2020 election, for example, is not going to win over a lot of independents,” said Reeher. “Without them, you've got no chance, and particularly in the way that district is drawn now."

The new 24th district is the most oddly shaped, stretching over nearly a dozen counties. It includes the city of Oswego, where Mayor Billy Barlow said it’s a massive district, but the areas included deal with some similar issues.

"There are some common denominators,” said Barlow. “I think the issue with Lake Ontario and the water levels and lakeshore flooding is certainly consistent across the entire district."

The newly drawn 21st district eliminates much of Jefferson County, including the city of Watertown, which is home to a lot of military families from Fort Drum. That could be a hit to Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville), who serves on the House Armed Services Committee. But, Reeher said, she’ll still be tough to beat.

"She's very skilled,” said Reeher. “She's extremely disciplined. She's got a lot of juice in the institution and in the party."

As for what happens next to the maps, Reeher thinks we’ll see a vote fairly quickly.

"I think there's going to be a collective desire at least among the Democrats to put this in the rearview mirror and reap the benefits of it in 2022," he said.