Updated 07/03/2012 06:27 PM
Changing the redistricting system
It is one of the touchiest subjects dealt with by elected officials. Every ten years, with new census numbers, they have to redraw the boundaries of the districts they serve. YNN's Bill Carey says unhappiness with new lines for Onondaga County legislators is leading to talk of possible reform.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- When 2010 census figures were released, Onondaga County lawmakers had a job on their hands. They already planned on reducing the size of their legislature. But now they had to redraw legislative district lines to represent population shifts in the census.
Those new lines were in place for the 2011 elections. Now, minority democrats are proposing a different system for redistricting is in place before 2020 census numbers roll in.
“What this would do is, rather than have their political leaders and our political leaders close the doors and fill the room with smoke and figure out what they want to do, this would say, what we're going to do is create a non-partisan citizen commission. We're going to cast a big light on it,” said Democratic Legislative Floor Leader Mark Stanczyk.
Democrats are hoping a new system will improve their odds of gaining seats. Currently in the 17 seat legislature, they hold just four positions.
Majority republicans argue that democrats hold a voter registration edge in nine of the 17 legislative districts. But that they failed to address voter concerns last year. Concerns like holding down spending and taxes.
“These are all things that the general public wants to hear and clearly in 2011, we did a better job of getting our message out to the voters and they rewarded us with the supermajority,” Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon said.
While the democratic proposal was on the agenda for a meeting this week, it was delayed for a month, with talk of a compromise.
Republicans are quick to add that while they see the benefit of citizen involvement, there are limits.
McMahon said, “The charter process of Onondaga County, and of almost every legislature, is to draw these lines. The elected officials have that responsibility at the end of the day. And I think incorporating people into that process is a good thing. But at the end of the day, we still have a job to do.”
Stanczyk is still optimistic.
“If it gets passed, next month, which is when we hope to pass it, it will be on the ballot this November for the citizens of Onondaga County to say, yes, we agree that it might be better, might be better, if we involve some citizens,” said Stanczyk.
And with a non-partisan map of legislative districts in hand a decade from now, Stanczyk says it will be difficult for politicians to justify lines based on political concerns.