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Onondaga County Legislature's GOP Majority Rams Through Redistricting Process Despite Democrat Protests

dave knapp edit.jpg
Scott Willis
Onondaga County Legislature Chairman presides over Tuesday's session.

The Onondaga County Legislature’s GOP majority Tuesday pushed through last-minute agenda items that would appear to fast track the redistricting process.  Democrats questioned the timing and ethics of the party-line vote.

Chairman Dave Knapp defended the move, which bypassed the typical committee process to get on Tuesday’s agenda. He says they’ve been talking about it for over a year.

"As soon as the census data gets here in September, per the charter, the clock starts ticking. We have to get going on this. It's not going to be done before the election. We are simply starting the process."

Democratic reapportionment commissioner Dustin Czarny disagrees.

"We have six months to start this process, according to the charter, and we have until February 2023 to finish it. There is absolutely no rush to do this other than the GOP wanting to do this before the next legislature is seated, in case the democrats take control."

Both elections commissioners sit on the six member reapportionment commission. Czarny says says now is not a good time to even begin the process.

"We have an election in less than 30 days, and we'll be certifying that election until Thanksgiving. I don't know how we can get this work done and get good, fair maps."

Democratic lawmaker Chris Ryan tried…and failed last year to convince his GOP colleagues to adopt a non-partisan, independent redistricting process. He says the executive and legislative branches are also consumed with other business.

"Were in the middle of the budget season, and we're being faced with a $15 million broadband initiative, a $25 million sport complex, an $85 million aquarium. I'm not sure if this is the right time to be doing this."

Fellow democrat Bill Kinne says lawmakers across the aisle know they’re wrong for perpetuating a partisan redistricting process.

"I was really hoping that this legislature would have the courage and fortitude to not do this again. You may have the right to do this. It may be legal. But it's certainly not ethical."

Chairman Dave Knapp chalked up the fuss to the political time of year, where people poke holes in everything. All legislative seats are up for grabs. Lawmakers and the county executive will appoint the remaining members of the commission by Friday. An organizational meeting is schedule for next Wednesday.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at