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Newly drawn 24th congressional district raises concerns

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New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment
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The newly proposed 24th Congressional District

Despite the lawsuit mounted against the newly drawn congressional districts in New York state, local leaders are still preparing for what the new maps mean for their communities. In the case of the 24th district, some leaders are saying they’re a little puzzled about the map makers’ logic.

The new district starts at Niagara County and part of Erie County in western New York, wraps around most of Monroe County, and stretches all the way east to include most of Jefferson and Oswego counties.

Watertown Mayor Jeff Smith said he’s concerned the needs of his city, which is the largest in the new district, are different from the needs of western New York areas three and a half hours away.

"I just think that whoever drew the map clearly doesn't understand all of New York state," said Smith.

He was especially concerned to see Fort Drum split into two districts, when it’s currently entire in the 21st district, represented by Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik.

"You've got 10th Mountain Division soldiers and families living in two districts right next to each other,” said Smith. “I just think that's very shameful and a complete disservice to the military men and women and families."

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said he was also surprised at the map, but he said he can see some similarities across the district.

"It'll be interesting,” he said. “I think upstate New York is in a lot of the same boat anyway. We have a lot of the same issues, infiltration of drugs being one of them, lakeshore flooding being the other, but it'll be interesting to see how this shakes out, and I look forward to working with whoever our next representative is."

As for who that will be, Republican Rep. Chris Jacobs is already throwing his hat in the ring. The Republican currently represents the 27th district in western New York, which no longer exists in the new maps.

Christian Chase, a spokesperson for Jacobs, said the new 24th contains all or part of eight counties Jacobs currently represents and specifically addressed the change to Fort Drum.

“Congressman Jacobs is humbled at the prospect of representing Fort Drum. It is a critical national security asset and has a long and significant history with the 10th Mountain Division," Chase said in a statement. "He looks forward to continuing the record of strong representation in the area by Rep. Stefanik. Congressman Jacobs plans to spend a lot of time in the community learning more and ensuring our service members and veterans have a loud voice in Congress.”

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.