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November 3, 2011

State redistricting panel hears from public

PLATTSBURGH — The message from local people testifying before the State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Re-apportionment was clear: Leave our congressional district the way it is.

"Our congressional district should not be put in proximity with a major city," said Franklin County Legislator Paul Maroun, a Republican from Tupper Lake.

"We need a North Country district that is rural in nature."

SERIES OF HEARINGS

Maroun was one of a dozen people who spoke before the Task Force at a public hearing Wednesday in Hawkins Hall at Plattsburgh State.

The hearing was the 14th held around the state to get input on how the new lines should be drawn for congressional and state Senate and Assembly districts for next year's elections.

Districts are re-apportioned every 10 years based on the U.S. Census.

The Task Force is made up of Democrats and Republicans from the Senate and Assembly and two citizens.

ADDING 53,000

Several speakers told the Task Force that the North Country congressional district should not be drastically altered.

New York will lose two congressional districts next year because the state did not keep up in population with the rest of the country, and 53,000 people must be added to each district as a result.

The 23rd Congressional District covers 11 counties — including Clinton, Franklin and part of Essex — stretching from Lake Ontario in the west to Lake Champlain in the east.

It is the fifth-largest congressional district, geographically, east of the Mississippi River.

'SPRAWLING'

Those in favor of keeping the 23rd much the way it is pointed to its rural nature, the agricultural, tourist and recreational aspects and the border with Canada as making up the unique fabric of the district.

"We have a sprawling district. We take upstate to a whole new meaning," Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru) said.

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