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Albany Voters To Decide On Redistricting

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Albany County voters have a ballot question on redistricting to decide on Tuesday.

Officials say Albany County’s legislative districts must be adjusted in accordance with the relative population growth and shifts as indicated in the coming federal Census to ensure fair representation for each resident. 

Local Law O was approved by the County Legislature in May. It creates a non-partisan, independent redistricting process after the next census.

According to the bill, a nine-member independent redistricting commission of county residents will be tasked with redrawing election districts.

Patricia Sibilia is President of the League of Women Voters of Albany County. "We started very early, probably close to four years ago, working on what is now Local Law O, because the county has been sued after the last three census and redistricting, under the Voting Rights they've been sued, and they lost all three times, so we knew that there needed to be a change, not just to address the gerrymandering that's been going on, but also the issue between the majority-minority districts."

Sibilia says over the course of years, the League educated key sponsors, providing information pertinent to the redistricting process.  "And what has come out with Local Law O, this is now proposition number one, is something that the League of Women Voters of Albany County supports, however, you know, we'd always want perfection, and it's never gonna be what we truly wanted all the way, and we're willing to accept that that's that. We would have seen it touted as independent redistricting, and it is not."

Albany County Legislator Sam Fein represents the 6th district. The Democrat says there's another important component to Local Law O, formation of a majority-minority district subcommittee.   "This will ensure that the majority-minority districts are drawn first, and then the larger committee will take that recommendation into consideration when drawing the rest of the districts."

Republican Deputy Minority Leader Paul Bergdorf represents the 23rd district. He voted against Local Law O.    "Because I believe that it is truly not an independent redistricting panel, the way it is structured, it is possible that you could have eight people from one party and one person from another. We were hoping that we would have a more balanced appointment process but it didn't work out that way. So in the legislature all the Republicans voted against it."

Polls open 6 a.m. Tuesday and close at 9 p.m.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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