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Let the redistricting battles begin!

Dec 09, 2010 10:38 am
Want a sense of how the next year's reapportionment battles are going to look across the region, let alone the entire nation? Consider today's story, from Mid-Hudson News Network, on what's happening in neighboring Dutchess County, where the heavily-Republican legislature overturned a law, adopted last year, to create a nonpartisan citizen's panel for drawing new district lines for itself... after midnight, and a seven-hour meeting, no less. Democrats objected, noting the late hour, and noting that all but one of the citizens who had intended to speak during public comment, had long since left. Republicans countered that elected officials knew better about what their districts needed. Democrats came back, winning several GOP members to their side -- but not enough -- by pointing out how the citizen's commission (such as many states adopted) called for Democrats to appoint two members, Republicans to appoint two, and for those four to appoint a fifth person who was from neither of those parties.

The legal change passed 14-10. Stay tuned for more such re-alignments across the board in coming weeks...

Leading the charge was Legislator Michael Kelsey, who noted he is the first Republican to represent his district since the last reapportionment. Kelsey said this gives the redistricting authority back to where he claims it belongs: the county legislature.

“I think that like we just passed this budget, that some of the authorities given to us are non-delegable. We should not be delegating to private citizens to adopt the county budget, nor should we do that to draw the lines,” he said. “We are the legislators who knock on doors, we know the streets, we know the roads in the towns we represent. This redistricting should not be a partisan political thing. It should have a fair process and the legislators are the best ones to do that.”

The Republicans currently have a lopsided 18-member majority on the 25-member legislature.

This is the “highest form of a political game,” said Democratic Minority Leader Sandra Goldberg.

“What the Democratic majority did a year ago was to try to take the partisan aspect of drawing district lines out of a political arena. Yes, it called for two Democrats … It actually called for Democrats to appoint two, the Republicans to appoint two, and for those four to appoint a fifth person who was from neither of those parties.”

Three Republicans … Chairman Robert Rolison, Majority Whip Angela Flesland and Marge Horton … sided with the Democrats in the final 14 to 10 vote to repeal last year’s local law and turn control of redistricting back to the legislature.