The Oswego County Legislature has put forward a proposal changing the boundaries of the 25 districts that send representatives to the county legislature.
I believe that this proposal, in its current form, violates at least three out of four guiding principles recognized by redistricting authorities and the courts alike.
These well established principles exist to ensure that redistricting is fair to communities and citizens alike.
Let’s take a look at just how well the proposed plan to change the county’s legislative districts matches up with those principles.
One important principle is that the new districts are supposed to be compact and contiguous.
Does the proposed redistricting meet that standard?
Not even close.
One example is District 18, which is currently represented by Legislator Mike Kunzwiler.
Since its creation, the district has always been just a portion of the east side of the city of Oswego.
The proposed plan drops parts of Oswego city and adds Scriba and Volney.
The latter doesn’t even share a border with the existing lines.
Another such case is District 24, which at the present time, is almost entirely within the city of Fulton.
Under the proposed plan, it loses most of its city territory, takes in more of the town of Granby, goes into the southern part of Minetto and extends north to include part of the town of Oswego.
Similarly, there is the principle that says redistricting should preserve, as much as possible, the cores of existing districts.
The proposed plan actually destroys the cores of existing districts.
In fact, 23 out of 25 of them will now have new borders.
Eight districts were changed so radically that they hardly resemble existing districts.
Legislator Fred Beardsley’s District 9, which used to be wholly contained within the town of Hastings, now unnecessarily moves into Palermo.
Legislator Amy Tressider (District 16), who at the present time, only represents a portion of the west side of the city of Oswego, now has a district that includes a large section of the east side along with a part of Oswego Town.
Another principle is that the new districts should respect communities and municipal boundaries.
How does the plan match up with this principle?
It’s hard to imagine you could do more harm to community representation than the current proposal.
The proposed districts disrespect our communities and ignore municipal boundaries.
Examples include the towns of Minetto and West Monroe, both of which have always been wholly contained inside their respective legislative districts, and are now being needlessly
The town of Hannibal contains enough people so that it can once again be its own district.
Instead, it’s being divided up even more.
The town of Oswego presently has two Legislators.
Under the proposed plan the town is split five ways and will have five different representatives.
Finally, you must have districts with more or less equal populations.
This is the only principle the county seems to have paid any attention to.
Though even here, the process was secretive and the results are suspect – more about that another time.
The proposed redistricting plan for the Oswego County Legislature should be rejected.
It disrespects our communities and is a disservice to voters.
Oswego County Legislator
Fulton – Granby