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Redistricting criticism continues at final public hearing in Onondaga County

Democratic Onondaga County Legislator Mary Kuhn holding a press conference prior to the final public hearing regarding county redistricting.
Madison Ruffo
WRVO Public Media
Democratic Onondaga County Legislator Mary Kuhn holding a press conference prior to the final public hearing regarding county redistricting.

Of the 15 people that spoke at the final Onondaga County redistricting public hearing last Friday, every single one of them criticized the commission’s process as “rushed.”

“These maps are going to be in place for 10 years and you're giving the county 21 days,” said North Syracuse resident, Darlene Piper.

Piper was joined by several others in criticizing not only the process but the fact that many of the public hearings, like Friday’s, were taking place during work hours and only days after the draft maps were revealed.

“I think the most egregious part of all of this is that you underestimate the voters,” said Fayetteville resident, Cheryl Matt. “You think they're stupid, too stupid to understand what's going on, and so complacent that they aren't paying attention to the process. Voters are paying attention.”

Prior to the hearing, Democratic county legislator Mary Kuhn held a press conference with several county democrats denouncing the redistricting process and blaming the chairman of the commission, Kevin Hulslander, for setting the accelerated timeline.

“This absurd timeline and especially the muting of the voice of the people of this county has been orchestrated by Mr. Hulslander,” said Kuhn.

Aside from comments about the process, residents also weren’t happy with the redistricting maps either. Most criticized the republican-drawn map as being gerrymandered, specifically around the town of Dewitt.

“It is easy to see that they were not drawn with any consideration for Dewitt residents,” said Max Ruckdeschel, a local expert in cartography and geography. “No other town in Onondaga County is so needlessly dissected into so many legislative districts.”

Residents were also skeptical of how Fayetteville and Manlius were separated and how many Syracuse neighborhoods were lumped in with nearby suburbs.

Most speakers, including Kuhn, made clear that they don’t think the democratic-drawn map was perfect either.

The final map submissions were due at noon on Friday, five hours before the public comment window closed. And a final version will be voted on this Wednesday.

Madison Ruffo received a Master’s Degree from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, where she specialized in audio and health/science reporting. Madison has extensively covered the environment, local politics, public health, and business. When she’s not reporting, you can find Madison reading, hiking, and spending time with her family and friends.