Feedback: New Assembly District Confuses St. Lawrence Co. Voters

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For the first time, voters in four St. Lawrence County towns will be voting in a Republican primary Thursday in a new Assembly district that will be represented by someone to the north in Clinton County.

With the county now divided into four separate Assembly districts, some candidates are forced to travel long distances to meet with county voters they'll be representing - if they choose to do so at all.

Voters we spoke with in the new 115th Assembly District are worried the redistricting short-changes their communities.

"I think we're left behind a lot - these little towns up here. I think Albany forgets about us sometimes," said Beverly Moody, who disagrees with the re-districting.
 
The redistricting plan pulls the town of Brasher and three other towns - Lawrence, Hopkinton and Piercefield - out of St. Lawrence County, and merges them with Franklin and Clinton counties to make up the 115th Assembly District.

William Demo has been on the Brasher Town Board for the last 51 years.

Demo says the plan is misguided.

"I think most people don't actually feel they are being well-represented here because of the way the Assembly district is drawn up kind of leaves us in the dark. People aren't pleased with it," said Demo.
 
Republican voters are going to the polls Thursday for a three-way primary in the 115th District.

But the people we spoke with say they don't even know who the candidates are.
 
For the record, Janet Duprey is the incumbent.

She's facing Karen Bisso, a teacher from Plattsburgh, and David Kimmel, a businessman.

They aren't doing much in St. Lawrence County.

We found only a handful of campaign signs for one candidate.

Richard Longuil found a political advertisement when he picked up his mail.

Longuil questions the whole redistricting plan.

"I think it's a bad thing only for the simple reason is do you get a fair representation," he said.
 
There are also questions and concerns being voiced at the county Board of Elections, where commissioners Tom Nichols and Jennie Bacon have been busy trying to answer voter questions.
 
"It's very confusing to all the voters and it will certainly divide our influence in Albany," said Nichols.
 
Redistricting could also be costly.

With St. Lawrence County now carved up into four state Assembly districts and three Senate districts, there could be more primaries.

The costs are charged back to the towns.

"It's an additional cost because we're ordering ballots again for another primary.  We're hiring election inspectors for another primary," said Bacon.
 
So how do county voters make sure their voices are heard both in and outside the voting booth?
 
"We've got to make sure we stand up and speak out or we will get lost in the shuffle," said Nichols.
 
And it's obviously not just primaries.

It won't happen this November, but going forward, each one of the seven Senate and Assembly districts could have contests, in what is now a very divided county.

 

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Thursday, October 30, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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