CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The mayors of Albany, Schenectady, and Troy are banding together in an effort to keep their cities in the same congressional district. The three city leaders met at Schenectady City Hall for a press conference Wednesday.
“We collaborate often on common issues that impact our communities. As mayors, we’re constantly in conversation about challenges that we share,” Troy Mayor Patrick Madden said.
Madden, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, and Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy have sent a letter to the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) to urge them to choose a map without lines dividing their three cities.
“Our black and brown residents are concentrated in these three cities,” Sheehan said, “and I think dividing these three cities in any way will dilute that vote, will dilute that strength, and that advocacy that we bring for individuals who are most in need of having a strong voice for them in Congress and in Washington.”
The IRC’s “Letters” draft plan separates Schenectady, drawing the city into a neighboring district that includes Sullivan County and parts of Madison County near the suburbs of Syracuse.
“I wish Binghamton well, I wish Syracuse and the other communities well. We have interactions with those [cities]. But the reality is the Capital District is a separate entity with much stronger commonalities,” said McCarthy.
Jeffrey M. Wice, Adjunct Professor and Senior Fellow at the NY Census and Redistricting Institute said this has often been a problem with congressional redistricting because the districts in New York must be of equal population. While the state is losing a congressional district, population requirements still have to be met, while also abiding by other requirements. Wice says the three cities’ efforts to stay together could classify them as a community of interest.
“District shapes can change decade to decade, but at least in the last five decades, the Albany area has been in one congressional district,” Wice explained.
The IRC will hold their final statewide public hearing on Sunday, December 5. Members of the public can submit testimony, maps, and comments until then. The IRC is scheduled to send a final map proposal and report to the state legislature on Monday, January 3.