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Redistricting Panel Hears Case For, And Against, Keeping So. Tier Congressional District

Redistricting Hearing WEB

VESTAL, NY (WSKG) — New York’s Independent Redistricting Commission heard public comment from residents of the Southern Tier and Central New York region’s Monday. Some commentators wanted a change, while others seek the continuity of the existing district lines.

Currently, the 23rd Congressional District runs from Tioga County west to Lake Erie, including Tompkins County.

Tompkins County Legislator Martha Robertson told the commission she would like to see Tompkins be incorporated into continuous districts with neighboring Cortland County to the east. She argues the two counties share similar traits because both host colleges and universities.

Cortland County is currently part of New York's 22nd district, which is held by Republican Claudia Tenney. She beat out incumbent Democrat Anthony Brindisi last year in a race decided by just over 100 votes.

"Please include Tompkins in whatever senate and congressional districts include Cortland County, because of the shared interest, culture and economy that link our two communities,” Robertson said.

Robertson, a Democrat, unsuccessfully ran for the 23rd district seat in 2014 against Republican incumbent Tom Reed. Reed has held the current 23rd district seat since the lines were last redrawn a decade ago, but announced he would not seek reelection following sexual misconduct allegations.

Steuben County Republican Committee Chair Joe Sempolinski declared his candidacy for the seat earlier this year. He also spoke to the commission Monday, but made the case for keeping the Southern Tier district largely the same due to similar economic and social conditions.

"I humbly ask the commission to respect the needs of the rural areas of New York state,” Sempolinski said. “Precedent, math and social and economic realities of the region call for a rural Finger Lakes, Southern Tier congressional district to be preserved."

Chairman of the commission, David Imamura, said the panel expects the Census Bureau to deliver final apportionment data later this week. He said following the commission will then craft draft maps and release them around the middle of September. The public will have the opportunity to comment on the draft maps before they are delivered to the state legislature for approval early next year.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.