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Governor doesn’t like lawmakers’ district lines

Tri-Lakes impact would be minimal, but big changes proposed for St. Lawrence, Hamilton counties

January 27, 2012
By CHRIS MORRIS - Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

A spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo has put to bed any speculation about whether proposed district lines for the state Senate and Assembly will see the light of day.

"At first glance, these lines are simply unacceptable and would be vetoed by the governor," Josh Vlasto said in an email to the Enterprise Thursday. "We need a better process and product."

That statement came just hours after the state Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment posted proposed lines for redistricting on its website. As expected, the task force would create a 63rd Senate District and drew blunt criticism from good-government advocacy group Common Cause/NY.

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"Overall, these maps appear to continue the long tradition of partisan gerrymandering we've come to expect," Common Cause Executive Director Susan Lerner said in a statement. "There are major demographic changes that are simply not reflected on these maps."

LATFOR's lines, like the current ones, make for some oddly shaped districts, especially in St. Lawrence County. Common Cause drew up its own district lines recently.

Public hearings on the proposed lines are scheduled to begin Monday.


Changes for the Tri-Lakes

Under LATFOR's plan, the Assembly district now represented by Janet Duprey, R-Peru, would lose the Essex County town of St. Armand and gain four towns in St. Lawrence County: Brasher, Lawrence, Hopkinton and Colton. Meanwhile, the Assembly district now served by Teresa Sayward, R-Willsboro, would pick up St. Armand and the Washington County towns of Putnam, Dresden, Whitehall, Hampton, Fort Ann, Granville and Hebron. She would lose all of Hamilton County and two towns in Saratoga County: Moreau and Providence.

Duprey said she had several discussions with St. Armand town Supervisor Joyce Morency about moving St. Armand into Sayward's district.

"I had actually asked the LATFOR committee to consider doing that," Duprey said. "With (Morency's) involvement with the Essex County Board of Supervisors, she would be more comfortable being part of that group."

Morency said the proposal makes sense.

"We were sort of the poor relative out in the backyard," she said. "Janet is a fine lady, but I did want to be back in the Essex County loop. Between Janet and Teresa and the people on that committee - Democrats and Republicans - they asked (Duprey), 'Are you sure you want to do this?' And she said, 'Yes, it's best for the town.'"

Sayward did not return calls for comment Thursday.

State Sen. Betty Little's district would lose all of Hamilton County and parts of Washington County, and pick up five towns in St. Lawrence County.

"I had hoped my district would stay the same," the Republican from Queensbury said. "But the growth wasn't taking place in my area. It's taking place more in Saratoga County, the Capital District, the Hudson Valley. So you have those areas moving north."

Little said the towns in St. Lawrence County she would pick up are similar to communities in neighboring Franklin County.

"I'll work at getting to know those people and getting over there and hopefully being able to represent them well," she said. "I hate to lose Hamilton County, but I assume that my friends in Hamilton County will always be my friends."

Duprey told the Enterprise she was pleased that LATFOR didn't propose to break up Clinton and Franklin counties.

"I've gotten comfortable, quite frankly, with everybody, and I think that I've established a rapport with the local officials and the county officials in all of these communities," she said.


Hamilton, St. Lawrence counties impacted

The proposed district lines would bring significant changes to other parts of the North Country.

Assemblywoman Addie Russell said she would welcome the changes in her region. The Democrat from Theresa represents what's called the "River District" along the St. Lawrence River, from Massena to Cape Vincent.

"Now, there'll be three people advocating on behalf of St. Lawrence County," she said, referring to the possibility of having Duprey and Little move into St. Lawrence County. "We should be able to tackle the problems and issues ... as a team."

Colton town Supervisor Lawrence C. Patzwald said he doesn't know Duprey but thinks that his community is similar enough to those in Franklin and Clinton counties that the cultural leap won't be too big.

"The assemblyman that we have here (Ken Blankenbush) does an excellent job for us," Patzwald said. "However, if you look at the total picture as far as the make-up of the populations, they're quite similar. So I think this will be representation for rural New York state even with the shift."

No change would be bigger than in the 49th Senate district, now represented by Democrat David Valesky of Onieda. The entire district would shift far to the east into territory currently represented by state Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Schenectady, giving the Adirondacks another representative in the state Senate.

Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio contributed quotes to this report.



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