Final Public Hearing Set For Onondaga County Redistricting Maps; Legislator Says They Were Drawn "Illegally"
Democratic Onondaga County Legislator Vernon Williams, Jr. is calling on County Executive Ryan McMahon to veto what he calls “racially gerrymandered redistricting maps.” There’s one more public hearing before the plan is accepted or rejected.
Lawmakers narrowly approved the GOP-drawn maps Friday by a 9 to 8 vote, with two republicans joining all democrats in voting no. In a release, Williams says the "illegally drawn" maps take one of the city’s highest areas of concentrated poverty, which he partially represents, and divides it. He says half of it is paired with the affluent downtown and university neighborhoods, and the other half is paired with the valley, Outer Comstock, and Westcott areas. Williams says voters in his district take democracy especially seriously.
"Representing a majority-minority population, I understand that many of my constituents wouldn’t have had the right to vote just 60 years ago. These maps and the process they were drawn infringe on the concept that voters should choose their elected officials. Elected officials should not choose their voters and that is what has happened here.”
A new state law makes it clear that redrawn districts should keep voters with common interests together. Any perceived deviation could be grounds for litigation. Numerous public speakers at several public hearings said the maps violated the law.
Williams says County Executive McMahon has shown complicity in the process. He's acknowledged to WAER and other media recently that the process and final maps are partisan and political, but also fair.
“Although County Executive McMahon may see these maps positively, he seems to know that this is politics. I would like to appeal to his better angels and ask him to reconsider for the good of the people,” said Legislator Williams.
Williams is calling on his 16th district constituents and others across the county to speak out. If approved, the maps could strongly influence the outcome of all 17 legislature seats for the next decade. A final public hearing will be held this Friday in the 14th floor conference room of the civic center at 11 am.