Mark Grimm - Albany County Legislator

I understand no one is going to make popcorn and snuggle on the couch to watch a redistricting debate. Yet, this seemingly "inside baseball" matter affects you in many ways.

Redistricting must be done every 10 years to coincide with population shifts reflected in the Census.
It involves how the maps are drawn for legislative districts. This can have an enormous impact on who gets elected and who doesn't.

Those in power have used redistricting to maintain their control by using it to reward legislators who vote with them or to punish those do not follow the party line. Nationwide, both major parties use this tool to maintain their advantage.

This manipulation poses one of the greatest threats to positive change because the powerful want to maintain the status quo that has served their purpose. In Albany County, this process has been repeatedly abused over the years. The courts have consistently struck down unfair redistricting plans that have cost county taxpayers a fortune in legal fees alone.

We must take steps to fix this problem once and for all.

A tri-partisan group of legislators has stepped up to propose a redistricting plan (Local Law W) that could finally resolve the problem. Local Law W would hire an independent mapmaker to re-draw the maps. The places of residences for incumbents and challengers could not even be considered by the mapmaker, and party registration and voting history would be excluded. Those in power would not be allowed to even contact the redistricting commission unless it was part of the official record. Local Law W is far superior to another proposal (Local Law V) that does not have any of these safeguards.

Local Law W would go a long way to cultivate the emergence of more political reformers who have fresh ideas about how to ease the tax burden, improve services, make government more transparent and ensure minority rights are fully protected.

Mark Grimm
Albany County Legislator (District 29 - Guilderland)

Letter appears in the Times Union, December 21, 2016 edition

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