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Albany County district lines to move

Marginal public interest in the redistricting process; number of seats will be unchanged

With the results of the 2010 Census in hand, lawmakers in Albany County are midway into an effort to redraw the lines of the County Legislature's 39 districts. At stake is residents' representation for the next decade, but after a number of public meetings it's not clear if anyone cares.

There have been six public meetings on the redistricting at venues around the county, most of which have been sparsely attended. One in Voorheesville drew no residents and legislators adjourned after a short procedural discussion, according to county records.

Legislator Shawn Morse, D-Cohoes, and chairman of the seven-member Redistricting Commission, said this issue just might not have any traction with even the most involved of voters. He also posited residents have nothing to lose and are thus apathetic to the process.

I think people only turn out when they're unsatisfied. I think it's always been like that, Morse said. "When they have a reason to be heard, people will be heard."

Although the census data will be used to calculate the county sales tax distribution to municipalities in Albany County, that's based strictly on population and the commission will have no control over that formula. What the body is researching is redrawing the lines of the Legislature's districts so they all have about 7,800 people in them, or 1/39th of the county's 304,204 residents (a 3.3 percent growth from the last Census).

This fact alone would require some shuffling, but some areas of the county have seen greater population shifts than others (see the adjoining map for a basic idea of how things shake out across the entire county).

Even in the areas where things are about right, the redistricting presents a rare opportunity to improve representation, said Legislator Thomas Cotrofeld, D-Delmar, and a member of the commission. That could mean making sure districts don't overlap rural and more densely populated areas, so people and their concerns can be more fully represented on the Legislature.

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