The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Redistricting plan that would have shifted Erwin fails in Legislature

  • A plan to reorganize legislative districts failed to pass Monday in the Steuben County Legislature.
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  • A plan to reorganize legislative districts failed to pass Monday in the Steuben County Legislature.
    Every 10 years, after the U.S. Census, the Legislature is required to consider redrawing legislative districts to reflect shifts in population.
    The last census was in 2010, and Steuben County officials have been mulling the issue since then.
    The proposal voted on Monday would have shifted the Town of Erwin, currently a district unto itself with a single legislator, into a district with the towns of Addison and Tuscarora. The new district would have had two legislators.
    The Town of Lindley, which is in a district with Addison and Tuscarora, would have shifted to a district that includes the towns of Caton, Corning (excluding the city) and Hornby. That district would also have two legislators.
    But despite the consideration of a number of possible maps – Deputy County Manager Jack Wheeler said there were more than 100 – before presenting this one for a vote, the majority of legislators were still unhappy with the plan.
    Legislature Chairman Joseph Hauryski, who represents the towns of Bradford, Campbell and Wayne, descended from the chair during Monday’s meeting to speak in favor of the plan.
    “(It) goes a long way in setting us on the path to equal representation,” Hauryski said. “Is (it) perfect? No, it isn’t.”
    Equal representation is central to the issues at play in the redistricting proposals.
    The county’s 17 legislators currently each get a weighted vote to account for differences in population between districts.
    Hauryski noted that with the shifts in population throughout the county, the Legislature could soon reach a point where only eight legislators – a minority – from populous districts could control the agenda.
    He also expressed concern that if the Legislature fails to address redistricting, a court could step in to do so in response to a legal challenge.
    But legislator Gary Roush, who represents the Town of Erwin, said the proposal failed to take into account the differences and similarities between towns when aligning them into districts.
    Roush said the plan would have put rapidly-developing Erwin into a district with the very rural towns of Addison and Tuscarora – potentially putting the two legislators from the new district in opposition to each other with very few interests in common.
    “It really doesn’t accomplish the intended purpose,” Roush said.
    The proposal would have set up a vote by county residents on whether or not to accept the new district map.
    Voting against the plan were: Eric Booth, Dan Farrand, Michael Hanna, Aaron Mullen, William Peoples, Gary Roush, Brian Schu, Randy Weaver and George Welch.
    The City of Corning’s other legislator, Hilda Lando, was absent from Monday’s meeting, but county officials said her vote wouldn’t have swayed the outcome.
    Page 2 of 2 - Steuben County Manager Mark Alger said last week he wasn’t concerned if the plan failed, because there’s no official deadline for the county to address redistricting.
    Alger’s new title and responsibilities under the county charter passed last year were also codified in the Legislature’s rules of procedure Monday by unanimous vote.
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