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Redistricting maps revealed, could cause headaches for north country lawmakers

Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 5:39 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Could there be a 3-way Republican primary for state assembly? One version of new redistricting maps would do that for Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, Assemblyman Mark Walczyk and Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush.

The maps were revealed Monday, the day of its deadline, by an independent commission set up to carve out new political boundaries based on the latest census count.

However, this commission failed to do its job. It didn’t make a decision. So, 2 versions of new state assembly, state senate and congressional districts will be sent to Albany for the legislature to make a final decision.

Since Albany is controlled by Democrats, it’s likely the maps drawn up by the Democrat-appointed members of the committee will carry more weight than the maps from the Republican-appointed members. That’s why a 3-way Republican assembly primary is feasible.

Under this version of what will become the 117th Assembly District, Watertown, Black River and Pulaski would all be put into one district. Those are the hometowns of Walczyk, Blankenbush and Barclay.

Under the same plan, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties would now be in their own assembly district.

As for the state senate side, the map drawn up by the Democratic appointees on the committee puts St. Lawrence County into a different senate district than Jefferson County. In fact, Fort Drum is carved out - split from Watertown - and put into a different district.

Current state Senator Patty Ritchie could continue to represent St. Lawrence County. But, under this plan, her district would go much farther east and she wouldn’t represent Jefferson County any longer.

In a statement, Ritchie said, “Unfortunately, this plan missed the mark by separating Fort Drum from Watertown and the north country. This puts our region at a glaring disadvantage and demonstrates we still have a lot of work to do in order to ensure a fair plan.”

As for the 21st Congressional Seat, both versions pretty much leave it intact, adding a little bit of territory to it but nothing drastic.

What happens now? The Democrat and Republican favored versions go to the state legislature where state lawmakers can do what they want and come up with whatever maps they want, as long as they are constitutional.

Those in politics tell us, the maps from the commission aren’t the ones that’ll eventually get passed.

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