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Critics pan county redistricting map, process

Legislators argue public meetings were held all over county

Albany County has drawn up a draft of the new County Legislature districts, but it was clear at a Monday, May 9, meeting of that body not everyone's happy with the plan.

About half a dozen commenters largely focused on district lines in the City of Albany, but also panned the process as a whole. Perhaps the most critical of the group was Aaron Mair, who said he had been a vocal opponent of the last redistricting effort. He argued the new map is unfair to minority communities and that the public was not given enough information or opportunity to comment.

This is the third time that I've been involved in this process and the county has a lot of shame to make up, he said. Mair suggested the public had been "hoodwinked" by the commission. Legislator Shawn Morse, D-Cohoes, the Redistricting Commission chairman, stood to object to that characterization.

"I believe that I did everything that I could do...I think we did the absolute best that we could," he said.

Morse and several other legislators pointed out that the commission had held seven public meetings around the county. Records show these were sparsely attended, with one drawing no members of the public at all.

Albany City Councilman Anton Konev said these meetings should have been better advertised and the process should have been more clearly presented to the public.

"It's all about perception, and the perception is the members of this body got together and manipulated districts to eliminate their opponents," he said.

The county revisits its district lines every 10 years following the results of the U.S. Census. The county increased in population by about 3.3 percent over the past decade to 304,204 residents. That means each of the 39 districts should have about 7,800 residents.

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