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Both local Congress districts will have to grow

March 28, 2011
By NATHAN BROWN, Enterprise Staff Writer

Both area congressional districts have gained people over the past 10 years, but with two fewer seats in the state, they will have to get even bigger than they are now to reach the new target of 717,707 people per district.

According to U.S. Census data released last week, New York's 20th District, which is represented by Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, has 683,198 people now, and the 23rd, which is represented by Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, has 664,245.

The 20th saw particularly strong growth in Dutchess and Saratoga counties; the only county in that district to lose population was Delaware. In the 23rd, Hamilton, Oswego and Oneida counties lost population. The change in Hamilton was particularly dramatic - it lost about 10 percent of its population, falling to fewer than 5,000 inhabitants. Overall, the 20th has gained 28,838 people since 2000, and the 23rd has gained 9,884 people.

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New York's congressional districts

New York's population grew from 18,976,457 to 19,378,102 people over the 10-year period. However, New York's population has been stagnant compared to other states, and it will go from 29 congressional seats now to 27 after the next reapportionment, which will take effect for the 2012 elections. In 2000, districts in New York had 654,360 people each.

The steepest population losses were in western New York, and several analysts have suggested that at least one of the districts lost will be there. The New York Public Interest Research Group has also suggested the results could mean New York City will lose a congressional seat or two - several of its districts lost population, according to census numbers, and overall growth there was much lower than expected. Local leaders have been challenging the Census Bureau's numbers for the city, saying its population was undercounted.

Historically, redistricting has been done by a commission of Senate and Assembly appointees, and the governor must sign off on the results. As it has been practiced in the past, it is often used to protect incumbents of the majority party. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver support legislation to create an independent redistricting commission, which the Senate's Republican majority has opposed, seeking a constitutional amendment instead. Such an amendment could not take effect in time for the redistricting before the 2012 elections.

The 23rd stretches from Lake Champlain to Lake Ontario and includes all of Franklin and part of Essex County. The 20th includes part of Essex County and stretches south, following the Hudson River valley, to the outskirts of Poughkeepsie and Cooperstown. Saranac Lake is divided between the two districts.

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Contact Nathan Brown at 891-2600 ext. 26 or nbrown@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.

 
 

 

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