Questions Loom Over Broome Legislature District Map
Broome Officials Weigh In (or not) on Voiding of Legislative District Map
A number of political camps are weighing in on a ruling by Supreme Court Justice Joseph McBride, tossing out Broome County’s redrawing of its legislative district maps. Both Republican and Democratic leaders have offered opinions on the declaring of the new maps "void."
One leader in Broome government, the Democrat whose signature made the new maps law, County Executive Jason Garnar is holding back comment. Garnar's office has declined comment on the ruling as the situation and the possibility of an appeal develops.
Last January, Garnar told WNBF News he wasn't surprised how the lines ended up being drawn and, as he saw the process was legally conducted, he planned to sign the completed document.
Democratic Legislator Mark Whalen says he fully expects Republicans to file an appeal to the ruling that threw out the redrawn lines on claims of gerrymandering, especially in the dividing of the Town of Maine into three districts that Whalen says is clearly in violation of the state law preserving towns into a single unit.
Voiding of New Broome Legislative District Map Leaves Questions
Democratic Broome Commissioner of Elections, Dan Reynolds says the ruling left a lot of unanswered questions with the judge just sending the map back to the county to deal with. He provided a copy of the full judgment received and filed by the Broome County Clerk on December 6, 2022.
Republican Legislative Leader, also named Dan Reynolds, issued a statement December 7 expressing disappointment with the decision and says they will be evaluating the options after meeting with the County Attorney.
The group that challenged the redrawing of local legislative district boundaries in Broome County, “Fair Maps for Broome County”. December 6 announced it has won a Supreme Court challenge to the county Legislative District map adopted in January, supposedly to reflect population shifts reported in the 2020 Census.
The group hired a lawyer to ask the court to declare the legislative district lines invalid due to gerrymandering to benefit Republicans, including dividing the Town of Maine into three districts.
Independent Map-Drawing Entity Not an Option
The Democratic Commissioner of Elections explained that, unlike the throwing out of the New York State-wide congressional maps earlier this year, an independent "Special Master" has not been mandated to redraw a map for the County. Reynolds says the County has 30 days from the filing of the judge to file a notice of appeal. He says, if they don't, he suspects the Ad Hoc committee that was formed over a year ago to redraw the lines will be reactivated to take another crack at drawing districts fairly, representing populations.
According to a news report on WNBF on November 17, 2021, the committee was made up of: 10th District Legislator Cindy O’Brien, 7th District Legislator Matt Pasquale, 13th District Legislator Robert Weslar, 15th District Legislator Mark Whalen, Elections Commissioner Daniel Reynolds and Deputy Commissioner Joseph Bertoni, Mary Johnson from the League of Women Voters and Member of Public-at-Large JoAnne Hanrahan.
Reynolds says there is also an outstanding question regarding whether there will have to be a special election for some seats in 2023 prior to the regular election on 2024 due to redrawn districts.
Ongoing District Line Issues Not Confined to County Government
Legislator Whalen, meanwhile, says a similar fight is brewing in the City of Binghamton where the City Council map could be redrawn splitting "communities of interest & compactness." He says there is a move to change the 5th and 6th districts that could split traditional communities into areas represented by different council members. A public hearing on City redistricting was to be held December 7. Whalen said he planned to speak at the meeting.