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Syracuse redistricting commission begins public hearings

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The group in charge of redrawing political lines in the city of Syracuse is ready to listen to the public. A series of five public hearings begins Friday, led by a 15-member Syracuse redistricting commission made up of community members, not politicians. That’s different from most other redistricting methods, which tend to be very partisan and divisive. That was the case when Onondaga County election districts were redrawn late last year.

"Now we’re on the heels of that, and we have to now roll this out to the public and convince them we’re listening because people are like, ‘nobody’s listening.’ And we have to dispel that," said Jacqueline Lasonde, a redistricting commission member from Syracuse’s southside, which was at the epicenter of the county redistricting debate.

She admits it may be difficult to get people interested.

“We are wanting it to be as seamless as possible. Because what are people faced with? It's COVID. It’s on, it’s off again, it’s on, it’s off again. All these mixed messages. Also, we're on the heels of people wanting to get on the ballot for an election. So we’re actually trying to register people to vote.”

Lasonde said she wants to hear from voters on what common interests should be important in drawing maps. And even though the city is decidedly Democratic, she knows there will be some unhappy people with the process.

"We do anticipate probably not pleasing everybody and maybe having to go back and relook at it, because it would be up to them to tell us," she said.

After the hearing, the commission will draw new maps and hold a second round of hearings before creating a final set of district lines that would be approved by the Common Council.

A list of public meetings is below. If you can't make it to the meetings in person, they will be live-streamed here.

  • March 18 at ITC High School, 4 p.m., 258 E Adams St, Syracuse, NY 13202
  • March 26 at PSLA @ Fowler High School, 7 p.m., 227 Magnolia St, Syracuse, NY 13204
  • April 7 at Henninger High School, 7 p.m., 600 Robinson St, Syracuse, NY 13206
  • April 24 at Corcoran High School, 4 p.m., 919 Glenwood Ave, Syracuse, NY 13207
  • April 28 at Nottingham High School, 7 p.m., 3100 E Genesee St, Syracuse, NY 13224
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.