To The Post-Journal:
As congressional-district lines are redrawn, we must oppose state Senate Republicans' and state Assembly Democrats' proposals to divide the Southern Tier among multiple districts.
This time, Western New York, and the western part of Central New York, can have four districts. Each district must have about 717,000 people. Keeping like communities together, there should be districts for:
Buffalo and part of the rest of Erie County.
Rochester and most of the rest of Monroe County.
The rest of Erie County, the Niagara Frontier, and the region just to the east of them, and
The Southern Tier and the remaining Finger Lakes region in the east.
In short, the Assembly Republicans' and a federal magistrate's proposals basically have it right.
As this correspondent wrote on this page in 1992 and 2002, this isn't about any member of Congress. It's about conserving regions and their identities.
For example, the counties across the Southern Tier have much in common. They comprise a predominantly rural region with a few small cities. They have many common economic interests. The decision to link the region with the Southern Tier Expressway, now Interstate 86, shows that government has already seen the importance of uniting the region.
With all of its common interests, the Southern Tier is best represented in Washington by a single member of Congress. Dividing the region and combining its counties with metropolitan areas to the north was wrong in 2002 and would be wrong now. The Southern Tier's counties have far more in common with each other than with Buffalo or Rochester.
Beyond that, combining the Southern Tier with the more populous cities or suburbs would make it a mere satellite of them.
We won this battle in 1992. We lost it in 2002.
We will have it in the coming decades as well.