The New York State Independent Redistricting Commission is currently at work redrawing the state's Assembly districts. Part of the process is a public hearing tour, with hearings taking place in twelve locations throughout the state. Last Wednesday, there was a public hearing in Albany, at which three representatives from Columbia County spoke.
Currently, Hudson and most of Columbia County are in Assembly District 106, the district represented by Didi Barrett. In the proposed redistricting, Ancram and Gallatin would remain in AD 106; the remainder of the county would be in AD 107, a district currently represented by Scott Bendett, a Republican.
At the public hearing in Albany on Wednesday, Mary Murfitt, who lives in Ancramdale, argued that Assembly District 106 should remain as it is because Columbia County is part of the Hudson Valley not Albany. Dorothy Heyl, treasurer of the Hudson City Democratic Committee, argued that a shift to AD 107 would "severely disadvantage Hudson," pointing out that Hudson's population is 25 percent African-American or mixed race as compared with only 3 percent in the proposed new district. She concluded that, were the redistricting to happen as proposed, "The black population would be disenfranchised." Sam Hodge, chair of the Columbia County Democratic Committee, argued that the proposed AD 107 was too vast, extending two hours' distance north and south and two hours' distance east and west. He urged that, because of their similarities, Dutchess and Columbia counties be kept together in AD 106.
Elaine Frazier, a member of the six-person commission, commented, "We struggled over Columbia County," and suggested, "In attempting to solve one problem, we created another."
The entire hearing can be viewed here. The comments pertaining to Columbia County begin at about 1:48:45. The commission's public hearings continue through the month of February, the last one taking place on March 1 in Suffolk County.
COPYRIGHT 2023 CAROLE OSTERINK