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- Monroe County legislators have not yet agreed on new legislative district lines.
Monroe County legislators have established a commission to make another attempt at redrawing their legislative districts.
The commission includes Legislature President Sabrina LaMar, a Democrat who caucuses with Republicans; Republican Legislator Robert Colby of Ogden; Democratic Minority Leader Yversha Roman of Rochester; Republican Elections Commissioner Lisa Nicolay; and Democratic Elections Commissioner Jackie Ortiz. LaMar submitted the legislation, which passed unanimously and without discussion.
“I do believe that if we are able to work collaboratively that there is good representation on this particular commission,” Roman said Wednesday.
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- Legislature President Sabrina LaMar submitted legislation, which passed Tuesday, to convene a legislative redistricting commission.
The full Legislature will have to vote on and approve any new district maps before they go into effect. The deadline for lawmakers to act is June 11 and the commission could have its first meeting as soon as next week, according to Nicolay.
Every 10 years, governments must revise legislative district boundaries using data from the newly-completed federal census to ensure equitable representation.
The County Charter provides for county legislators to form a legislative district revision commission that consists of members of the Board of Elections, the president of the county Legislature, and two legislators. That’s what the legislation approved Tuesday will do.
In December, Republicans and the breakaway Black and Asian Democratic Caucus, of which LaMar was a member, rushed through a set of maps. Voters tossed out most of the Black and Asian caucus members in the 2021 election and when the Legislature began its 2022 session in January, the GOP held a single-seat majority.
Bello, who opposed the maps and the process by which they were created, vetoed the maps in January following a public hearing.
“The Republican majority’s redistricting process last year was deeply flawed. It lacked transparency, and meaningful public input and did not provide adequate information about the proposed districts to legislators or the public,” Bello said in a news release announcing that veto.
Bello also called for an independent redistricting commission, but the Legislature didn’t create one.
The League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area opposed the December maps, too, and it criticized legislators for developing them with little public input.
Barbara Grosh, president of the local League chapter, said public feedback is an important step to help preserve what she called “communities of interest,” places such as suburban villages and town or city neighborhoods that share demographics or are affected by a common set of issues, for example.
“The current maps are not a starting point,” Grosh said, noting one district divides Brockport, another divides East Rochester, and Roman’s district includes parts of a few city neighborhoods and two suburbs. “The current maps have a lot of defects in them.”
Grosh said that going forward, the League wants the commission to hold well-publicized hearings around the county and to make any proposal available and accessible to the public, such as posting searchable maps on the internet. League volunteers will monitor commission meetings as well as provide updates and alerts through its social media channels.
“We view ourselves as watchdogs,” Grosh added.
Jeremy Moule is CITY's news editor. He can be reached at [email protected].