Picente: Make Oneida County Whole in Redistricting
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr., yesterday urged the New York State Legislative Task Force on demographic research and reapportionment to keep Oneida County whole in the upcoming redistricting process at the state and federal levels.
On congressional redistricting, Picente said, “Currently, all of Oneida County, with the exception of 8 towns, is located in the 24th Congressional district served by Congressman Richard Hanna. I am here today to respectfully ask on behalf of the people I serve that the redistricting plan that is adopted continue to include as much of Oneida County as possible, if not the entire county, within one Congressional District.”
Speaking in Syracuse before Task Force Chairs Senator Michael Nozzollo and Assemblyman John McEneny, Picente said that Oneida County’s people and its economy would be best served by having the county within one Congressional District. “This goes beyond simple unity, although I believe you will agree that carving counties apart to draw district lines is a practice that should be avoided where possible,” Picente testified. “Defense-related companies are very important to the economy here in Oneida County, and they are located in multiple communities, chiefly Utica and Rome. Currently, when there is an issue that impacts defense-related employers, they are in one district served by Congressman Hanna, who has done an exceptional job in his representation of our defense-related employers and federal assets. The stronger this connection, the better our economy can survive. Diluting this connection by fragmenting the county into multiple districts would be a disservice to the people who look to Congress for support.”
Picente also opposed fragmentation at the state level and called for an end to having the county in parts of two Senate Districts. He noted that a plan to put parts of the county in five separate Assembly districts “does a disservice the people of Oneida County.”
“I realize that the process of redistricting must deal with the unpleasant reality of drawing fair and balanced lines while dealing with a host of complex demographic issues,” he said. “I understand that difficult decisions must be made. However, I believe that the guiding principle behind these decisions should be to avoid doing harm to the people who will have to live with the decisions made during this process. The question in redistricting is not whether the people we have elected are doing their best, but whether the district lines allow the needs of the county to be properly represented. To achieve that end, the goal of this process should be to maximize the amount of Oneida County that is served by a single Congressional District and that is within a single Senate District. I also strongly believe that any plan that carves the county into more Assembly districts than we currently have should be opposed and defeated.”