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Commission asks for more public input for Syracuse redistricting process

The Syracuse Redistricting Commission holds a public hearing
Jessica Cain
The Syracuse Redistricting Commission holds a public hearing

A major goal of the Syracuse redistricting process is community involvement. But just a handful of people showed up to the second public hearing at Fowler High School Saturday night to share their thoughts.

Redistricting Commissioner Charles Jackson said the commission needs more input.

“The more people who come out, the more ideas we get, the more difficult the job,” said Jackson. “And we want the job to be difficult."

The commission is made up of community members in an effort to avoid the partisan fights seen during some other redistricting processes. Commission members say they want to focus on what's best for the people, not the politicians.

At the hearing, community activist Charles Pierce-El asked the commission to take a closer look at district lines on the South Side and is encouraging his neighbors to get involved in the mapping process.

“If you educate our people, then they'll get out there and vote, and they'll have more choices," said Pierce-El.

Robin Hamblin lives on the North Side and has been a teacher in the Syracuse City School District since 1994. She asked the commission to take into account the challenges young adults are facing in the city and expressed hope they would show up at future hearings.

“If they don't have a voice, and if they're not listened to, and if they can't carve out that chunk of time to speak their truth, things are not going to get better," said Hamblin.

Jackson said neighbors have also reached out, asking the commission to re-evaluate mapping around the Washington Square area of the city and urging commissioners to keep in mind the way changes to Interstate 81 will affect different areas.

Jackson said it's important to the commission to design the maps in a way that makes sense.

“We're here to make sure every individual gets to pick their politician and have them represent their community, as opposed to the politicians being able to pick who gets to vote for them," said Jackson.

There are three more public hearings scheduled. The next is at Henninger High School on April 7 at 7 p.m. There are also hearings on April 24 at Corcoran High School and April 28 at Nottingham High School.

People can also watch and participate in the hearings virtually here.

After the hearings, the commission will draw new maps to be approved by the Syracuse Common Council.

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.