PLATTSBURGH — The proposed new state Senate and Assembly districts offer some changes for North Country representatives but no major developments.
"I don't think the North Country is really hurt by this," Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) said.
Little represents the 45th District, which includes six counties, from Clinton and Franklin in the north to Warren and Washington in the south. Under the plan released Thursday by the Legislative Task Force on Redistricting, Little's district would lose all of Hamilton County and part of Washington County.
She would gain part of St. Lawrence County.
In all, she would lose about 14,000 people, with the total population of the district dropping to 293,101.
Most of the people Little would lose will be inmates in North Country jails that will not be counted this time around. Inmates were counted in the 2002 redistricting process, but a court ruling since then has said that they must be counted at their last place of address before they were sent to jail.
NEW NYC DISTRICT
Most Senate districts in the state would lose large numbers of people as the Task Force tries to fill a new district created in the New York City area to bump up the number of districts from 62 to 63.
"I hate to lose Hamilton County because I've represented them for 10 years and have built some good relationships," Little said.
As for gaining six towns in the eastern part of St. Lawrence County, she said those communities are very similar to those in neighboring Franklin County, which she has represented for a decade.
"I think all people care about is being well represented, and I will do my best to ensure that they are," she said.
'TOUGH ISSUES THERE'
Little is not the only North Country representative whose district would no longer include Hamilton County. Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro), of the 113th District, would also lose the sparsely-populated county that lies to the west of Essex and Warren counties.
"I am sorry to lose Hamilton County. That is in the Adirondack Park, and we have been working on some tough issues there, and I was hoping to clean them up," Sayward said.
"But we will still keep an eye on it."
Sayward would gain the Town of St. Armand in Essex County and the northern part of Washington County. Her district would be changed to the 114th and include 132,752 people, up about 600.
Janet Duprey (R-Peru) would lose St. Armand and gain four towns in St. Lawrence County.
About 5,000 inmates would number among those she would no longer represent.
Her district, which would become the 115th instead of 114th, would include 132,936, also up about 600.
"I look forward to representing those St. Lawrence County towns," Duprey said.
"I don't know those folks, but I look forward to getting to know them. I think a lot of the issues there are very similar to ours. It is a rural area much like ours, and it is still North Country."
The proposed plans will be reviewed at hearings held by the Task Force, starting next week.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said that he will veto any plan that is put together by the legislature and not an independent body.
Several government watchdog groups, among them the League of Women Voters, have also threatened legal action if the plan is not designed by an independent group.
"We will wait and see what happens," Sayward said.
Proposed maps for the state's new Congressional districts have yet to be completed.
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