OSWEGO, NY – On Tuesday, the Oswego County Legislature’s Redistricting Committee unveiled a map of what the legislative districts could look like by Jan. 1, 2013.
The committee is looking to bring all of the districts’ average populations to fewer than 4,900. They are using 2010 census data to establish the boundaries.
The goal is to make district populations more equal and easier to manage not only for the legislators but their constituents as well, according to Dave Turner, director of the county Community Development, Tourism and Planning Department.
The average population per district, using the latest census figures, is 4,884.
According to the law, populations in each district is required to be as close as possible to that figure, Turner explained, adding that it can’t be 5 percent above average or below average; 244 people over the average number or 244 people below.
The number of districts will remain the same; just their shapes will change. Legislator Amy Tresidder’s district (16), for example, would cover both sides of the river in Oswego.
The committee’s focus has been on the five districts that are plus five percent and the six that are minus five percent.
“In order to get those 11 districts into compliance, we had to move a lot of lines around. It’s not as easy as saying, ‘we will just fix those 11’ because they don’t necessarily border each other. There were some districts that could have been OK if we left them the way they were. But, unfortunately, in order to get to the district that needed help we had to go through and beyond that district and move some other lines,” Turner explained.
Only two districts remain the same in the proposed map; One (Margaret Kastler) and Five (Ronald Sakonyi).
“There wasn’t any reason to touch either one of theose. So, we didn’t,” Turner said.
They tried to get every district’s population as close to even as possible, “and to a certain extent, we did that,” Turner said.
In the current configuration, 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 had the plus and minus districts all right next to each other, this would be a piece of cake,” he told Oswego County Today recently.
The committee also sought to find some sort of natural boundary to distinguish the districts from each other so it would help the constituents.
“Everything worked out pretty well. These are preliminary maps,” Turner told the legislators. “Take a look and consider them. We’ll probably have to tweak a little bit.”
Legislators said they hope to get everything taken care of so that the new district boundaries will be official by the start of the new year.
The committee consists of Legislator Daniel Chalifoux (chairman) and legislators John Martino, Daniel Farfaglia, Louella LeClair and Kevin Gardner.