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Albany County Archives The Altamont Enterprise, June 2, 2011

It’s now up to Breslin
Will new map of legislative districts become law?

By Anne Hayden

ALBANY COUNTY — County Executive Michael Breslin has 30 days to decide whether he will approve a new map of the county legislature districts, which was drawn to reflect demographic shifts recorded in the 2010 census.

If Breslin decides to approve the map, he will sign it into law. Mary Duryea, Breslin’s spokesperson, said yesterday he will likely make his decision within the week. She declined to let him comment on the matter.

The county population has increased roughly 3 percent, to 304,204, in the decade since the last federal census. The Albany County Legislature has 39 members; under the new plan, each would represent roughly 7,500 people.

At a public hearing on May 31, Breslin listened to citizens’ protests over the new district lines, arguments the same people have been making at meetings over the last several months.

The speakers at Tuesday’s hearing mainly represented two distinct communities — the Hilltowns, and minority neighborhoods in downtown Albany.

“Who would have thought the Hilltowns and Arbor Hill would ever have a common interest?” quipped a member of the audience on Tuesday.

The new map moves much of the town of Knox to a suburban district separate from Berne and Rensselaerville, and splits the village of Voorheesville between two districts. The new map also includes only four majority minority districts — meaning the majority of voters within the districts are racial or ethnic minorities — rather than the five called for by a representative of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Anne Pope, director of the northeastern region for the NAACP New York Conference, stressed that the chapter sued the county and won after the last redistricting 10 years ago. She warned Breslin that, if he did not veto the new plan, history could repeat itself.

Dozens of Hilltowners appeared in Albany, yet again, to say they don’t want to be split, and they want the 39th District, which includes Berne, Knox, and Westerlo to remain intact. (For full coverage of these issues, go online to www.altamontenterprise.com and look under Albany County archives for May 12, 2011, May 19, 2011, and May 26, 2011.)

The 39th District has been represented by Alexander “Sandy” Gordon since 1996, and he also appealed to Breslin on Tuesday. Gordon, who will be running for re-election, said he thought there was “political maneuvering” involved in the redistricting process, and that he is disappointed with the outcome.

Aaron Mair, a civil rights activist, presented his own re-districting plan to Breslin, which he said would allow for five majority minority districts and keep the 39th district intact. Mair urged Breslin to consider his map before approving the one submitted by the redistricting committee.

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