Normally, gerrymandering of election districts is used to consolidate political power.
But in the case of a draft statewide redistricting plan that includes splitting the cities of Schenectady, Albany and Troy into separate congressional districts, the effect would be to divide it.
And that could hurt residents of all three cities by depriving them of the unified voice their leaders now use for the betterment of all their citizens in seeking federal aid and legislation.
That’s why the mayors of the three cities are making a plea to the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission to keep the three cities under one congressional district.
Right now, all three cities fall within the 20th Congressional District, currently represented by Rep. Paul Tonko of Amsterdam. Under one plan, Troy and Albany would remain in Tonko’s district, while Schenectady would be broken off into Rep. Antonio Delgado’s 19th District, which includes Sullivan County in the southern Catskills, the city of Binghamton in the Southern Tier and some of Syracuse’s suburbs in Madison County in Central New York.
While both Tonko and Delgado are Democrats (as are the mayors of Schenectady, Albany and Troy) and both congressmen are solid representatives for their constituents, the move would place Schenectady in with other communities that have tenuous connections and disparate interests.
Most importantly, it would unreasonably dilute the clout in Congress that one voice speaking for Capital Region cities now has.
The three older urban centers have much in common besides proximity. They share similar populations, a transportation system and similar infrastructure needs, business interests, governmental functions, economic challenges, social issues, crime-related issues and educational challenges.
One member of Congress would be familiar with those needs, regularly communicate with the local leaders of all three cities in developing a cohesive message, and best be able to translate their collective needs into appeals in Washington for federal aid and benefits, access to programs and legislation to benefit all three cities.
When the three Capital Region cities are doing well, it improves the lives not only of their citizens, but of those people in surrounding communities who work, shop and do business in those cities.
And that, in turn, benefits the entire state — which is why those redrawing the lines for congressional districts need to consider this appeal seriously in determining the final boundaries. The economic and social benefits of keeping them together far outweigh any political benefits.
The commission will host its final statewide virtual public hearing on Sunday at 2 p.m. via Zoom. (Sign-up closes at 2 p.m. Saturday.) Members of the public may submit testimony, comments and maps until then.
To sign up for the meeting and/or to offer testimony, visit: https://www.nyirc.gov/meetings.
We local encourage business owners, municipal and school leaders, and other citizens to express to the commission the strong need to keep Schenectady, Albany and Troy in one congressional district.