Legislative redistricting in New York state continues to drag on, but a special master and three judges charged with overseeing the process have set a March 12 deadline to produce final congressional maps.
The panel met Monday and ordered all stakeholders to submit maps today for consideration. Then those groups, like the good-government advocacy group Common Cause/NY, have until Friday to review all of the proposals and file responses.
Common Cause has already proposed its own sets of state legislative districts and a congressional plan.
U.S. Magistrate and Special Master Roanne Mann said final maps will be out by March 12, and a public hearing on that plan will be held March 15, according to a press release issued by Common Cause: The group's director, Susan Lerner, said Mann has emphasized the short time frame and "set clear deadlines and criteria by which the map drawing will be accomplished."
"We are pleased that the court is considering our plan, and look forward to receiving feedback and providing assistance," Lerner said in a prepared statement. "In two weeks the courts will do what the Legislature has failed to achieve in months: fast track the redistricting process to produce the fairest possible Congressional lines."
State Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, told the Enterprise that congressional candidates "are really hurting" because they don't know what the districts will look like. Candidates can begin collecting signatures for petitions on March 20.
"We've got to make some final decisions soon," Little said. "You have to have consensus."
Kellie Green, a conservative Republican from Sackets Harbor who is running for New York's 23rd Congressional District, said recently that delays in the release of congressional lines haven't stopped her from campaigning and meeting with constituents. The same is true for Watertown businessman Matt Doheny, who is also seeking the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines in the upcoming congressional election.
"We anticipated months ago that there may be a delay in lines being set, so we took the initiative to introduce ourselves to Republican, Independence and Conservative party members from the outlying areas," Doheny said in an email. "We've also maintained good relationships with those parties within the current district."
But Doug Hoffman, an accountant from Lake Placid, said he's waiting for those maps to come out so he can decide whether to run for the 23rd District seat.
According to Little, the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment can still work on its own congressional maps. She said lawmakers also need to determine when the Assembly and Senate primaries will happen.
Lerner said Gov. Andrew Cuomo must "hold firm" to his promise to veto LATFOR lines that she and many others say gerrymander districts to help incumbent politicians.