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Onondaga County Commission To Begin Using New Census Data To Redraw Legislative District Maps

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Scott Willis
/
WAER News
Onondaga County's reapportionment commission holds it's first regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 19.

Members of Onondaga County’s redistricting commission met Tuesday, and received new census data that they will use to re-draw legislative district maps.  But some are still raising concerns about the rushed process and how the commission is operating.

The draft maps are due by the commission’s next meeting in about a week. Meanwhile, public hearings begin Friday. Democratic appointee Sharon Moran says the lack of collaboration and input about meeting and hearing dates is not effective.

"There are reapportionment commissions like this across the country. None of them take place in a matter of days. They take weeks. They take months. They have serious technical input, professional support, as well as public participation. I'm not seeing any of that right now, and I'm very frustrated"

The entirety of commission’s work is scheduled to be completed within 21 days, all before election day. Democratic elections and redistricting commissioner Dustin Czarny tried and failed to postpone the public hearings for two weeks so it wouldn’t interfere with early voting and election day. But it was voted down 4 to 2 along party lines. Commission chair Kevin Hulslander dismissed concerns about scheduling. He says the tight timeline is not unusual, and traditionally how it’s been done here and in other counties. Hulslander also says the public hearings shouldn’t be that demanding of commissioners.

"I want to make sure we have a commission member at each public hearing, even though I don't see it necessary for all commission members to be present for every public hearing because they are going to be transcribed."

But Czarny says he should be, and will be engaged in all hearings.

"I think all of the commissioners should be engaged. I couldn't believe he [Hulslander] said that the commissioners shouldn't be at the public hearings. So, we're just going to put up a microphone, tell people to talk, and hope that somebody listens to them later? That's not how this is done."

Czarny and Hulslander have sparred from the beginning, and see their roles and that of the commission differently. Hulslander says some disagreement is to be expected, and that Czarny is making the process more political and controversial than it needs to be. Hulslander insists he takes his role very seriously, and that the process has been, and will be fair.

The first public hearings will be held Friday morning at 11 at Clay Town Hall and at 4 pm at LaFayette Town Hall.  The hearings will be livestreamed on the legislature's Facebook page, or a recording will be provided afterward. The public will also be given an option to submit written comments.

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Scott Willis
Left to right, reapportionment commission members Sharon Moran, Dustin Czarny, and chairman Kevin Hulslander.