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Residents Implore Onondaga County Lawmakers To Vote "No" On Redistricting Maps, Calling Process "Partisan" And A "Sham"

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Scott Willis
Charles Pierce-El lives in the current 16th district, and has worked for years to educate and register voters. He told lawmakers the proposed maps break up and dilute the voices of minorities in the district.

Onondaga County lawmakers are expected to vote Friday on maps drawn by the GOP-led redistricting commission that could influence the outcome of legislative races for the next decade. All of the roughly two dozen speakers at Wednesday’s public hearing called the process flawed and partisan, and urged lawmakers to reject the maps and start the process over. Most were concerned about the impact on their communities. Here’s what a few of them had to say.

“We have taken the village of Camillus and split it into three districts. There cannot be a justification for this. We have taken the Town of DeWitt, which has 26,000 people and could be a district by itself; we have broken it into 3 or 4 districts.”—Mary Cunningham

“It separates Minoa and Manlius from its historical communities. It continues the separation of the Village of Minoa from the rest of the East Syracuse-Minoa school district, and separates the village of Manlius from the Fayetteville-Manlius school district.” —Mark Matt

“I live in Nedrow area. If you look at the map over here, you sliced my neighborhood in half. And you didn’t need to do it.”—Justin Polly

“These basic rules of communities of interest, no excessive splitting of municipalities, and equal representation should be the foundation for district maps. This proposed map fails to follow the law and does not make sense. We need to do better. We can do better.”—Elaine Denton

“Given the 10 years they will have to live with this political manipulation, this gerrymandering, I call on you to pause this process.”—Heather Waters

“I do think this is something that really needs to be looked at, especially in light of the law that we passed. I was very proud to vote for it and to encourage the governor to sign it. It says district shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging, the equal opportunity of racial or language minority groups to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice. I think it's fair to say that pretty much all of the area of the county that is predominantly, racial or language minority groups is underrepresented by these maps.”—Sen. Rachel May

“This is a republican led commission. It does not represent the the best interest of our community our residents, nor is it the best work of our legislature, and ultimately may subject the county litigation.”—Charlene Tarver

“We have a committee that is totally partisan, and it’s shameful.”—Mary Cunningham

“I ask you to vote no. Legislator McBride, you’re my legislator. I ask you please to vote no. It’s breaking up my community. It’s breaking up your community, your town, your district.”—Justin Polly

“I would say this [reapportionment] commission is a complete sham, and those of you who are supporting it should be ashamed of yourselves.”—Brandi Witthoft

“I ask you to vote no on this map, send it back to the reapportionment committee, and tell them to actually listen to the people who care enough to come out and speak about what we would like to see. Not partisan maps, but fair ones.”—Elaine Denton

redist hearing 6 11-10 map review.jpg
Scott Willis
Residents and Legislator Bill Kinne, blue mask, review the proposed maps before the hearing begins.