Oneida County redistricting maps should be drawn up soon

Observer-Dispatch (Utica, NY) - Thursday, February 14, 2013
Author: Elizabeth Cooper

The committee tasked with cutting Oneida County's legislative districts plans to sign off on the new maps by March 5. 

As of Wednesday, there still were no proposed maps for committee members to look at. 

The county Board of Legislators is set to go from 29 members to 23 members on Jan. 1, 2014. All Board members are up for reelection this fall, so the new districts must be determined in time for them to campaign. 

"You can't do this in a month," said Democratic Minority Leader Frank Tallarino of Rome, who is on the committee. 

He said there were not enough meetings planned to adequately discuss issues such as minority representation and the interests of the county's cities. 

But Committee Chairman George Joseph, R-Clinton, who is also the Republican Majority Leader, said he wants the process to be efficient. 

"The more time you give people, the more time they waste," he said. 

Joseph tasked David Gigliotti of the county Planning Department with producing a draft map by the committee's next meeting Feb. 25. 

There will be three public hearings in the county between that meeting and March 5, when the committee is set to vote. 

Joseph said Gigliotti is being asked to make just one proposed map, but could submit more than one proposal if he wishes. 

If the map passes the committee, it will go to the full board at its next meeting March 13. 

Tallarino has pointed many times to the Republican majorities on the board and on the Redistricting Committee and suggested the new lines will favor Republican candidates. He also has said if that's the case, he will go to court to have the issue resolved. 

Each of the 23 districts must have a little more than 10,000 people in it. The current districts have about 8,000 people. 

Rank-and-file legislators make $8,368 a year and do not get health benefits. That won't change when the number of districts changes.