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September 21, 2018

County Committee Looks To Balance Districts’ Populations


OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego County Legislature’s Redistricting Committee is looking to bring all of the legislative district’s average population to just fewer than 4,900.

The goal is to make district populations more equal and easier to manage not only for the legislators but their constituents as well.

The average population, using the latest census figures, is 4,884.

This chart shows the populations in the county's 25 legislative districts. Those over the allotted variance are highlighted in yellow. Those under are shown in blue.

This chart shows the populations in the county's 25 legislative districts. Those over the allotted variance are highlighted in yellow. Those under are shown in blue.

The committee’s focus is on the five districts that are plus five percent and the six that are minus five percent.

The committee moved to explore the possibility of an “extension” to a program that the county already employed in a similar project. They also approved moving $5,000 from the contingency account in case the old program wasn’t able to be adapted to the current project and an update needs to be purchased.

Legislator Jim Oldenburg’s district (14) has the lowest population at 4,322.

Chairman of the Legislature Fred Beardsley’s district (9) is the highest at 5,635.

Districts 7, 8, 9 and 10 are in the plus group. Districts 13 and 14 are in the minus group. District 17 is also in the minus group. District 20 is in the plus group, while districts 21, 22 and 23 are in the minus group.

If the plus and minus groups were lumped more closely together, it would make things easier to redraw boundary lines and shift populations to make things equal, Beardsley said.

“If you look here, every one of these districts is over,” he said pointing to the cluster of plus districts. “So when you rectify this, these adjoining districts are going to get the population that is pushed out of them. They are already too high. So what’s going to happen is by the time you get these numbers down to where they belong, the numbers in the adjoining districts are going to go up.”

Therefore, he reasoned, the five problem districts could wind up impacting eight, nine or 10 other districts.

“If you had the plus and minus district all right next to each other, this would be a piece of cake,” he noted. “However, that’s not the case and it’s going to take some work to get the numbers down to where they should be in all districts.”

And then you have to find some sort of natural boundary to distinguish the districts from each other, he added.

“It may well be a half dozen districts affected. But my gut feeling, it will be closer to 10,” he said.

The committee hopes to have something in place before the next general election so there won’t be any confusion for the voters as to which legislator is running in which district.

“It wouldn’t serve the public or legislators well if they don’t know where the districts are,” said Richard Mitchell, county attorney.

The committee will meet again next month. It consists of Legislator Daniel Chalifoux (chairman) and legislators John Martino, Daniel Farfaglia, Louella LeClair and Kevin Gardner.

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