Every ten years, county legislators are required to review their population and decide whether or not they want to make changes to their legislative districts. And after the 2010 census, it was time for St. Lawrence County to have that discussion. As our Cara Thomas reports, the county is now moving forward with a plan, but it is not one everyone supports.
CANTON, N.Y. -- Laws have changed since the last time St. Lawrence County created its legislative district borders. Counties are no longer allowed to include incarcerated individuals in their population count, forcing the board of legislators to map out new boundaries for the county's 15 districts.
Legislator Alex MacKinnon said, "We didn't want to make too many changes. We wanted to keep the lines essentially as they were."
MacKinnon says they had two goals. They wanted to keep the borders similar to the way they were while also giving all legislators equal representation. Multiple plans were presented at Monday night's public hearing. While a majority of legislators favored one plan, community members and some legislators supported a different option.
Legislator Daniel Parker said, "They felt that the first two plans were not in the best interest for their area and they preferred plan A3."
Community members say that plan made more sense geographically, grouping similar towns together. And one thing they don't like in the plan passed by legislators is that the town of Canton will be split into three districts instead of the current two. But legislators who voted in favor of the approved plan say splitting the more populated towns like Canton, Potsdam, Ogdensburg and Gouverneur were unavoidable.
MacKinnon said, "It's not possible with the 15 legislative districts to have district of equal population without dividing those four towns in some way."
But some legislators didn't feel like the public's opinion was taken into account.
"It was obvious to me that the public hasn't had a lot of input or a lot of opportunity for input into this whole process and the public was there asking for that," said Parker.
The plan now heads to the county attorney's office. Legislators will then vote on whether or not to adopt it into law.