Redistricting Proposals Divide St. Lawrence County Lawmakers


No county legislator would be forced to run against another incumbent in a primary under redistricting proposals now being considered.

But the City of Ogdensburg would lose one legislator and Canton could see three Legislative districts rather than two.

Oswegatchie legislator Joe Lightfoot says he has serious concerns over the subdivision, or what he describes as "a hodgepodge" of county townships into newly configured legislative districts.

One plan, being put forth by Democratic legislators, keeps most of the districts the same as they are now, but does include some changes:

It adds Depeyster to Legislative District 5, now represented by Republican Don Peck.  It also carves up Lightfoot's District 3 - eliminating part of Ogdensburg, and replacing it with Rensselaer Falls in the Town of Canton.
"The board of elections wanted to cut down on the elections districts in the county, so the board of elections came up with proposed election districts. Once we decided on those, it was pretty easy to divide up the legislative districts," Peck explained.
The redistricting is occurring because of minor population shifts in the last census and the state's refusal to allow state prison inmates to be counted at correctional facilities in Ogdensburg and Gouverneur.

Lightfoot says he favors an alternate plan that would replace Canton with Hammond in his current legislative district, while moving Clifton and Fine out of District 6 and into District 4, which would also get Clare.
"The current plan that we are operating under is spread out unbelievably. The plan that is being offered by others does nothing to correct that," he said.

"The plan that I'm offering does," he added.

Dividing the county into more distinct legislative zones could require making some major changes, and that could have become highly political - something the county's redistricting committee attempted to avoid.

The redistricting plans go before a public hearing Monday night at 5 p.m. at the county courthouse.

Friday, December 9, 2016
, Watertown, NY

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