County Releases Proposed Redistricting Maps
Hurleyville Would Move to District 8
MONTICELLO, July 2022 — The Sullivan County Manager’s Office has released three map-based proposals for redrawing the nine existing legislative districts in the County. Following public comment, legislators will choose one of the three options at their monthly meeting on July 21.
It is mandated by law that redistricting be undertaken every ten years following the U.S. Census in order to keep pace with population shifts.
In all three of the prospective scenarios under consideration, the hamlet of Hurleyville, which is now part of District 6, represented by Luis Alvarez, would become part of District 8, which is currently represented by Ira Steingart.
“These maps represent a diligent effort by the County – through an independent consultant who has done redistricting for counties all over the country – to update the boundaries of these districts so that each legislator is representing an approximately equal amount of people,” County Manager Joshua Potosek explained. “Utilizing population data from the 2020 U.S. Census, the consultant created a trio of choices for Legislators to consider before voting on the one they prefer on July 21.”
The choice of three was ordered by the Legislature earlier this year in preparation for the redistricting vote. Consultant David Heller of Main Street Communications in Davenport, Iowa used only population data from the Census to craft the maps, achieving a population deviation between proposed districts of well under ½ of 1 percent (the State-mandated maximum is 5%). No political data was provided to the consultant.
“Due to significant increases in Sullivan County’s population centers coupled with population decreases in our more rural areas, the larger legislative districts will need to grow in size, while the smaller legislative districts will need to shrink, generally speaking,” Mr. Potosek added. “Exactly where and how that happens will be up to legislators, but the goal has been to keep communities whole as much as possible.”
Once a majority vote is reached, the chosen map will become official on January 1, 2024. (The existing districts will continue to be represented by the current legislators until December 31, 2023. Only legislators elected in the November 2023 general election will represent the redrawn districts.)
The public is welcome to view the maps and an informative fact sheet at www.sullivanny.us/departments/legislature/redistricting. Legislators will take oral comment at public meetings of the Legislature. Written comment can be sent to Clerk of the Legislature Annmarie Martin at Annmarie.Martin@sullivanny.us or 100 North Street, Monticello, NY 12701.
REDISTRICTING: The How and the Why
WHAT IS REDISTRICTING? Sullivan County legislators represent individual districts, as required by the County Charter. Those nine districts – one for each of the nine legislators – must by State law encompass an approximately equal percentage of the County’s overall population, as determined by the most recent Census. Thus every 10 years, after the U.S. Census figures are released, the Legislature must reorganize its districts so that legislators are each representing approximately one-ninth of the County’s population. This process is called redistricting.
WHY IS REDISTRICTING BEING UNDERTAKEN NOW? The 2020 U.S. Census figures were released in late 2021 and are needed to accurately determine how many people are in each of the existing districts and how the populations of the districts compare with one another. All nine legislative seats are up for election in November 2023, and both the public and potential legislative candidates need to know the boundaries of the new districts well before that election. Thus it is the Legislature’s intent to finish the redistricting process in 2022.
WHAT ARE THE STEPS IN THE REDISTRICTING PROCESS? The first three steps have already been completed as of the release of this fact sheet.
1. U.S. Census figures are released.
2. Legislators resolve to retain an independent consultant to research those numbers.
3. The consultant presents three maps – each of which conforms to the law governing this process – for the Legislature’s consideration.
4. The public and legislators are given approximately one month to offer comment, ask questions and suggest changes.
5. Legislators vote July 21 to select which map will become the official district map. Maps will be numbered 1-3 and will be considered in succession, with the selected map being the first one to receive the required five-vote majority.
6. Once a majority vote is reached, the chosen map will become official on January 1, 2024. (The existing districts will continue to be represented by the current legislators until December 31, 2023.)
7. Voters will elect legislators in November 2023 to represent each of the newly designated districts.
8. Voters and candidates for the Legislature will be able to see this official map well before the November 2023 election, so that they understand the boundaries of the new districts.
9. Candidates who win a seat on the Sullivan County Legislature during the November 2023 election will begin representing their new districts on January 1, 2024.
WHEN AND HOW WILL THE PUBLIC BE ABLE TO PARTICIPATE? The three maps presented to the Legislature are available for public review starting Wednesday, June 22, 2022. The Legislature will take oral and written comment thereafter, with oral comment being welcomed at public meetings of the Legislature and written comment able to be sent to Clerk of the Legislature Annmarie Martin at Annmarie.Martin@sullivanny.us or 100 North Street, Monticello, NY 12701.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT POPULATION OF SULLIVAN COUNTY? According to the 2020 U.S. Census, Sullivan County’s population stands at 77,643.
HOW MANY PEOPLE DOES EACH DISTRICT HAVE TO COVER? Each of the nine legislative districts must encompass approximately 8,627 residents. The legally permissible deviation between the most populous and the least populous districts is 5%.
WHAT PROTECTIONS ARE BEING TAKEN TO AVOID GERRYMANDERING? The consultant was instructed by the Legislature to only have contact with the County Manager and Director of Real Property Tax Services (who oversees tax mapping for the County) until such time as the maps were presented for review. Additionally, politically-related demographic data, like how many Republicans and Democrats are in a particular area, was not considered by the consultant in developing any of the three maps.
DOES THIS IMPACT OTHER ELECTED POSITIONS? No. This process only affects Sullivan County legislative districts. Other County elected officials – like the Sheriff, District Attorney, Clerk, Treasurer and Coroners – represent the entire County, regardless of its current population size. State and Congressional districts undergo their own redistricting procedure, completely separate from the County Legislature’s process.