The article on county redistricting reflects some confusion as to the proposals now sent to the caucuses of the legislature for discussion.
The reapportionment commission has two chairmen and six community members. The chairmen are Larry Barmore (R) and Tom DeJoe (D), members of the legislature, as reported. One community member was nominated by the county Chamber of Commerce, one by the League of Women Voters of Chautauqua County, and the other four were nominated by leaders of the Republican and Democratic caucuses, with mutual approval.
At the first meeting of the commission, Barmore presented his proposed map of 19 county legislative districts. DeJoe also presented a map, which differed from Barmore's. Both maps showed sitting legislators competing with one another in new districts - inevitable when moving from 25 to 19 districts in the same territory. The commission's community members saw problems with both maps, and the whole commission proceeded over six meetings to work out a map of its own. Then, at our July 10 meeting, Barmore expressed strong objections to the commission's map and proposed his own instead. This was his original map with some small adjustments. The commission proposed that its map and Barmore's be given to the two caucuses for comment. DeJoe's former map is no longer in play.
The city of Jamestown has too many inhabitants to form four districts under the new requirements, and too few to form five. Consequently, both maps now under consideration deal with a "Jamestown remainder." The only question is how large that remainder might be and with what other areas it should be combined. The statement that Barmore's map has four districts in Jamestown and the other map five is seriously misleading. The "Jamestown remainder" is in either case too small to dominate a fifth district.
Both maps currently under consideration have problems. The commission's map was drawn up in ignorance of the location of existing legislators' homes. That was as it should be - the commission was to aim for districts with equal numbers of residents, compactness of shape, and community of interests (e.g., rural vs urban, minority ethnicity vs majority). It was not supposed to be dominated by party interests - that was the whole point of having a community-weighted commission.
However, since the eventual map must be approved by a legislature often split along party lines, the commission had to look at existing legislators as it reviewed its latest map. That map turned out to "spread the pain" equally between the parties in terms of legislators competing against one another in the new districts. But it also creates two districts in which no current legislator resides. Barmore's map is equally fair in setting up contests between legislators and has only one district in which no current legislator lives. But it has other problems relating to compactness and community of interest.
In the July 10 meeting of the commission, Barmore remarked that his caucus had already approved his map. The commission is now waiting to hear from DeJoe's caucus, and fully expects to continue working on its map in the light of recommendations from the two caucuses.
Minda Rae Amiran lives in Fredonia.