Editor’s note: Since this story was published, the Onondaga County legislators approved the maps, 9-8.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — The Onondaga County redistricting process, which happens every decade, is usually one that happens over a span of three months. However, this time drawing the new boundaries for the legislative districts might be a three-week process.
Over the past few weeks, the redistricting commission has had five public hearings, with little to no turnout — the most having around 15 people attend, according to Legislator Mary Kuhn, D-DeWitt.
Wednesday’s public hearing had a substantial turnout, filling the majority of the benches in the chamber. Many members of Onondaga County came prepared with written accounts, all of them condemning the Republican-drawn map. Much of their concern revolved around the redrawing of the towns of Manlius, Nedro, and Camillus.
Kuhn voted against having tonight’s public hearing, saying she was making a statement. While she urged members of the community to come down and voice their opinion, she said she did not believe the legislators and commissioners were listening to the public’s concern regarding the maps. According to Kuhn, the Republicans want to take control of the situation and therefore are disregarding any outside feedback.
“I think it’s an issue of power,” Kuhn said, “And whoever’s in power winds up moving things at their speed in order to retain power.”
While Kuhn isn’t anticipating much will change after the public hearing Wednesday night, she is hoping for some change in the redistricting process.
“If there was a miracle, I would like to see the process extended, ” Kuhn said. “There was a complete lack of collaboration.”
The legislature’s chair, David Knapp, R-Lafayette, thinks the map will stay the same, even after hearing all the discontent from the public. He believes some highlights of the Republican-drawn map were overlooked.
“In general, I think it will stay the same,” Knapp said. “Nobody talked about the fact that we created a New American district in the city of Syracuse.
“There is no incumbent there, so that’s going to be a wonderful opportunity for our New American community on the North Side of Syracuse to have representation down here on the legislature, he added. “That’s one more reason I don’t think that it’s a bad product.”