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Legislature's routine redistricting, paired with shrinking legislature, raises questions

In less than a month, Onondaga County legislators waded through a decade of census data to create 17 new legislative districts in a reapportionment and redistricting process that some argue did not employ enough research or input from the public.

The legislature on Friday April 15 approved the local law to enact reapportioned legislative districts, based on the recommendation made by the Reapportionment Committee on Tuesday April 5. Districts are reapportioned every decade following a US census, and this year legislators were also tasked with shrinking the number of districts from 19 to 17, after voters approved the reduction last fall.

The new districts were approved in a 12 to 7 vote along party lines, with Republicans supporting the commission's proposal.

Democrats argued last Friday that the Republicans' redraw, coined "Plan A," put voters' needs second to protecting incumbent Republican legislators.

County Democrats had presented their own "Plan B" maps, which were defeated Friday.

Republicans say the new districts promote "metropolitization" by adding urban neighborhoods to some previously suburban districts.

"We're tying to get away from 'urban against suburban," Rhinehart said. "I think it's very important that legislators represent both suburban and urban neighborhoods."

Each new district accounts for an average of 27,000 voters, said Rhinehart. The average population of the current 19 districts is roughly 23,000, he said.

Election commissioners were not available to verify those numbers at press time.

Process, and results, raise questions

"If you put a map up of the 19 districts, and then put a map up of 'Plan A,' I can point to about seven or eight or nine districts that are almost exactly the same as they were to start, because they happen to be Republican districts out in the suburbs," said floor leader Mark Stanczyk, 9th-D.

He contended the six-member Reapportionment Commission "did not act like a commission" by excluding input from the Democrats.

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