A public hearing was held last night at Cortland County Legislative Chambers followed by a special legislative meeting with all members of the legislature invited to attend.
Earlier this month the Redistricting Commission approved a proposed local law redistricting the Cortland County legislative districts.
The public was also invited to comment on the county redistricting plans.
During the public hearing held by the full legislator regarding the proposed redistricting of Cortland County members voiced their opposition to the proposed mapping, but also concerns were raised on the lack of staggered elections of legislators.
The concern with the election of county legislators not being staggered out but instead running for election all at the same time. Leaving the concern of many newly elected officials not used to the legislative experience which could impact legislation. It was asked why couldn’t the legislature stagger out the elections so not all members are voted in at one time.
Another concern mentioned by a resident in Virgil, Paul Petrella was the way the County Legislature.
“As a resident of Virgil it is very concerning that our district be divided up rather than reducing the number.” He continued “I think it is a shame to do that when we have options to reduce the number (of legislature)”
Petrella mentioned that with the proposed redistricting remaining the same number instead of reducing the number of districts he and neighbors that live across the road from him would be represented by a whole different district rather than one that would focus on their area.
“I do not support the redistricting as it stands now” – Petrella stated at the end of his public comments to the legislature.
The town supervisor of Virgil John Kaminski spoke next to the committee “I can’t believe this is going to be put forth by [placing] our town into three other districts.”
He continued that residents of Virgil are concerned that representatives will be hard to get ahold of. He then asked the committee to reconsider the new mapping and keep Virgil as a whole instead of split up into three different districts.
Petrella then came back on again to speak with the legislature asking the question why can’t the legislature reduce the number when comparable counties with a population of 200,000 or less have fewer districts than Cortland County. He wasn’t sure why the Cortland Legislature can’t just reduce the number based on the average number of legislatures in other counties within NY.
“It just makes more sense to reduce, especially after reading all the public comments online there were a lot and I read everyone of them… but the predominant comments that were received were all against the districting as it is now.”
After, Petrella thanked the legislature for hearing him. It could then be heard a legislative member whispering to another “he’s done it again.”
After the comments made by the residents the committee moved quickly to close the public comments portion of the meeting.
When roll call was then being done, multiple members were absent from the meeting itself; a total of 3 were absent with those being Mitchel Eccleston, Joseph Nauseef, and Eugene Waldbauer. Additional members were also not present but were excused.
Legislator Cathy Bischoff then commented on the reaction of residents regarding Virgil being split up to 3 different districts by stating for Virgil to remain whole there would have to be 13 or less districts in Cortland County and mentioning even at 15 (districts), it would still be an issue.
Also noted in the meeting was how the new map would have 9 legislators representing the Town of Cortlandville, leading to a majority in the overall legislature.
When asked if this was an issue, multiple members mentioned they have not noticed or even looked at the mapping of this potential problem.
“We meet all the guidelines” Legislator George Wagnor said in regards to the concern.
Towards the end of the meeting it was restated that there will be 17 legislatures in Cortland County.
The next meeting will be held on May 26th at 6pm where the Redistricting Commission is
scheduled to present it to the full legislature.