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New NYS Assembly maps for 2024 are agreed to, with much less drama this time

"These are not the final lines. But these are lines that were approved by Republicans and Democrats in the redistricting commission." ~ Blair Horner, NYPIRG
Independent Redistricting Commission
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New York State
"These are not the final lines. But these are lines that were approved by Republicans and Democrats in the redistricting commission." ~ Blair Horner, NYPIRG

The New York state Independent Redistricting Commission presented a new draft map of New York state Assembly districts on Thursday.

The 10-member commission unanimously passed draft state Assembly district lines. They differ greatly from ones created by the Assembly itself earlier this year, which had been ruled invalid. A court later said because there wasn’t enough time to redo the lines prior to the 2022 election, the proposed Assembly maps could be used but a revision was needed for the 2024. Redrawn State Senate and U.S. House maps, also battled over, went ahead in last month’s midterms.

New York Public Interest Research Group Executive Director Blair Horner:

“And so there's gonna be a public hearing process that starts next month and goes for a few months after that," said Horner. "And so these are not the final lines. But these are lines that were approved by Republicans and Democrats in the redistricting commission. And the big change will be it appears, you never know what the final lines are gonna look like, is that they will meet constitutional muster. At least that's the hope of the commission.”

108th District Assemblymember John McDonald, a Democrat, says there are some significant changes.

“My district, I lose parts of Saratoga County, move deeper into Rensselaer County. Member Steck is removed from Schenectady and moved up into Saratoga County. And member Fahy is brought back to where she was," said McDonald.

"But she's also added the city of Rensselaer which I lose, so, significant, and then you look at the town of Guilderland, it actually gets connected to Schoharie, which is, you know, some people are scratching their heads about that. So there are some significant changes. But like anything else, this is the beginning of a process and the commission has been reconstituted, it appears to be acting independently, but now it's up for the public. It's their opportunity to speak on the issue,” McDonald said.

Noting changes the map imparts in his district as well, Assemblymember Chris Burdick, also a Democrat, expects there will be a hearing in Westchester County.

"It changes it by taking two municipalities that I currently represent and taking them out of the 93rd assembly district," Burdick said. " And that's the town of North Salem and the town of Newcastle, giving me slightly more of the city of White Plains, which I share with my colleague, Amy Paulin."

Assemblymember Matt Simpson of the 114th district, currently comprised of Essex, Warren and parts of Saratoga County, says the map is a dramatic change for Essex County.

“This map that I'm going to serve in next year, five of the towns that border with Clinton County and Franklin County are now in the 115th district," Simpson said. " And now in this map, I would not have Essex County at all in the 114th Assembly district. The 115th drops down further south into what was the old 114th. The 114th goes down into Rensselaer County.”

Common Cause New York Executive Director Susan Lerner says the new map raises several concerns for her group.

“The Constitution requires that at this stage, the map drawing should be conducted by a special master, period. The court, in sending the Assembly maps to the redistricting commission, stepped outside of the required constitutional provisions. And the map that was forwarded that was issued yesterday by the Commission does nothing to assuage our concerns that the current procedure that the court is allowing or requiring, really leaves the legislature, and particularly the Assembly in control of its own lines. And that's not what the voters deserve,“ said Lerner.

Again, Horner.

“At the end of the day, it's still up to the legislature and the governor to approve this deal. Time will tell.”

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.