Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Syracuse Common Council narrowly approves citizen-drawn district map

The city of Syracuse map of current geographical districts and proposed reshaped district lines.
Syracuse City Redistricting
The map at left was drawn in 2001, and actually underwent few changes from the previous decade. The city did not redraw lines in 2011. The "proposed," now final map, is the first true redrawing of district lines in 30 years.

Syracuse has earned the distinction of becoming the first city in New York State to have a council district map drawn by citizens and not by politicians.

A divided council approved the redrawn map by a narrow 5-4 vote Monday. Notably, all but one of the district councilors voted against the new district map, while all four at-large councilors gave it their support. Freshman first district Councilor Jennifer Schultz represents much of the Syracuse Northside and has expressed concerns from the beginning about neighborhood representation.

“We have big issues from the constituents regarding an all majority-minority Black district,” Schultz said. “ I feel like that’s an unresolved issue that really needs more consideration. I also don’t agree with jumping over Erie Boulevard with the Salt Springs being included in the fifth district. I think that should stay, that’s a critical boundary."

Changes to the previous map were inevitable given the significant shift in the city’s population over the past 20 years. The commission’s main priority is ensuring each district includes an equal number of residents within a certain margin and meets numerously required local, state and federal criteria.

The councilors that opposed the map didn’t take issue with the independent process; in fact, they praised it and thanked the volunteer commissioners for their tireless dedication.

Councilor Pat Hogan wished a different approach could have been taken to make the map. His current second district covers much of the city’s Northwest side. Hogan's new district will now include downtown, Strathmore, and Elmwood.

All of us deal with five or six neighborhoods of differing needs,” Hogan said. “I believe that this city of Syracuse deserves and the citizens of the city should have nine district councilors."

Fourth district Councilor Latoya Allen voted also against the map. Allen says it should have gone to residents for a vote.

“The part of the process that’s really flawed to me is the fact that the council has to vote on this,” Allen said. “I’d rather this be in the hands of the people.”

The new map will be in effect next year while many of the councilor's positions will be up for reelection.

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