The New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment released new district maps for all 213 legislative seats Thursday afternoon, creating a new seat in the state senate, eliminating a seat in the assembly and shifting district lines across the state.
The state is required by law to redraw district lines for the state legislature every 10 years based on population shifts. The committee, made up of six members, including four legislators and two non-legislators, uses census data to create the maps.
The new district lines will cause significant changes in Central New York, particularly in the state senate.
The biggest change comes in the 49th district, represented by State Sen. David Valesky. First of all, it’s now the 53rd district instead of the 49th; according to the proposed changes, the new 49th district would cover Fulton, Herkimer, Hamilton and Saratoga counties, making a significant shift eastward. Valesky will cover roughly the same area with some tweaks.
“That was a big point of confusion at first,” said Jessica DeCerce, Valesky’s press officer. “When they first posted the maps, they said they had also updated the list of senators and their districts, but they still had the old district numbers, so it looked like Sen. Valesky was going to be out representing Eastern New York, but he’s not. He’ll still be here.”
The proposed district map also leaves the city of Syracuse out of the new 50th district, taking it out of the representation of State Sen. John DeFrancisco. Instead, his coverage would include the towns of Camillus, Cicero, Clay, DeWitt, Elbridge, Geddes, Lafayette, Lysander, Marcellus, Otisco, Tully, Salina, Skaneateles, Spafford, Lysander and Van Buren in Onondaga County and the towns of Brutus, Cato, Ira and Sennett as well as the city of Auburn in Cayuga County. That part of Cayuga County had previously been part of the 49th district.
The rest of Onondaga County – Syracuse plus the towns of Fabius, Manlius, Onondaga and Pompey and the Onondaga Nation – and Madison County have been redistricted into the 53rd district, according to the proposal.
DeCerce said the new 53rd district is much more compact than the old 49th, which, under the 2002 lines, was “funny-shaped.”
“It’s a more compact area,” she said. “We lost a couple of towns from Cayuga County and gained a couple in southern Onondaga County. We’ll no longer be representing the town of Cicero. It’s a lot of tweaking, but it’s still very much a Central New York district.”
In terms of the state assembly, the redistricting has had a minimal impact. The numbering of our local districts has changed; the 111th district is now the 121st, which will likely prove confusing, since the 121st was also a local district. The 119th is now the 127th, the 120th is now the 128th and the 121st is now the 129th. The same representatives remain in place.
A series of public hearings on the new district lines will take place statewide in the coming weeks; one will happen at 3 p.m. at Henninger High School in Syracuse. After the hearings, the state legislature will pass legislation that the governor can either sign into law or veto. If he vetoes it, it will be up to a federal court to redraw the lines.
“A lot of things are still up in the air,” DeCerce said. “Everything could still change.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.