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Final public hearing Tuesday to discuss first draft of redrawn Syracuse Common Council district map

Syracuse Independent Redistricting Commission

The final public hearing will be held Tuesday on the first draft of the redrawn Syracuse common council district map.  Members of the independent redistricting commission will take feedback into consideration for possible adjustments. Commissioner Jason Belge says they’ve seen stronger attendance at the public hearings since the maps were released last month.

"If there's no complaints, if it's a perfect map, ideally nobody shows up," he said with a chuckle. "People will show up if there's something wrong in their eyes or if there's further questions...why is the line here and not there. So we're trying to get as much of that feedback as possible because we don't know every single part of the city and everybody's interests. We're not gonna get them all right."

He says their goal, of course, is to make the best map possible. Belge says one of the areas of contention is the Salt Springs neighborhood on the east side. Right now, it’s in a district that includes Meadowbrook. But the new lines pair Salt Springs with Eastwood.

"They might want to be with Meadowbrook as opposed to Eastwood. So, even though we kept the Salt Springs neighborhood together, it's now a question of who's their buddy neighborhood."

Last week’s meeting was the first for this resident, who made this observation.

"It sounds like I'm hearing that you want to keep the poor people with the poor people, don't include them with any rich people. It's kind of scary."

Commissioner Belge explains they didn’t take that into consideration when they created district "A" as a majority minority district.

"But I can see the concerns of somebody outside looking at the lines like, wow, you put all the poor people together. Where in our minds, our line of thinking was we put like-minded people in the same neighborhoods that would have similar goals together. So then they can then elect their fellow neighborhood, elect their fellow neighbors with those same similar goals and common interests."

Belge says the commissioners are now debating if socioeconomic status should be a factor in how they draw the districts. Some of the feedback at last week’s meeting came from district councilors themselves. Belge says the feedback is welcome, but it’ll be put under a different microscope. He says they didn’t take into account who’s in office or where they live.

"OK, here's a common area of interest and we think this neighborhood should be with this other neighborhood. Great, if an ordinary citizen said that. But if it's an elected councilor, we then have to peel the layers of the onion back a little bit and figure out Hmm. Is there a reason why for that? And that's, I guess, normal."

He say after Tuesday’s hearing, they’ll take all the information they’ve gathered to create the next draft map. That’ll be followed by more hearings, and then the final draft. He says they plan to submit the plan to the common council in early August.

Tuesday's public hearing begins at 5:30 at the Southwest Community Center.

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