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Syracuse redistricting commission release first draft of new Common Council district lines

A draft of new Syracuse Common Council districts
Syracuse City Redistricting Commission
A draft of new Syracuse Common Council districts

Public hearings begin this weekend to get the public’s thoughts on a draft map that bring the Syracuse Common Council’s political boundaries in line with the 2020 census. A 15-member commission, made up of citizens, has revamped the five council districts in the city.

Joe Driscoll represents the 5th district on council, a kind of hybrid that represents both the north and east sides of the city.

"The lines were very strangely drawn, I’d have certain quarters of a neighborhood and now the lines are drawn where it’s much more, these are drawn by neighborhoods, so you’re not seeing a popping in and out of a few neighborhoods, so it makes a lot more sense," said Driscoll.

This new draft map created more compact districts, with an emphasis on keeping neighborhoods together. It also fashioned a minority-majority district on the city’s southside that is made up of 53% Black population. The commission was tasked with taking politics out of the maps and that means the current council make up would change.

"Four of our councilors live in two of our districts,” said Syracuse City Redistricting Commission Vice-Chair Jonathan Hamblin. “So two of our districts, if the election was held tomorrow, wouldn’t have anyone running in this."

Commission chair Molly Lizzio said the commission didn’t take into account the reconstruction of Interstate 81, which will have a big impact on several neighborhoods.

"There’s no way for us to know what that will look like, and they’re looking at six years for that project to be completed, which might be more like ten years,” said Lizzio. “That’s the next commission’s task, to see what it will look like then."

Following the public hearings, the commission will put forth a final math that common councilors have to approve later this year.

Click here to see a list of upcoming public hearings.

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.