Charlie Nesbitt, retired Assemblyman, will serve on Redistricting Commission

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 February 2020 at 7:59 pm

Charlie Nesbitt

ALBION – Charlie Nesbitt, a retired state assemblyman, has been picked to serve on the Independent Redistricting Commission, which will draw the district lines for Congressional seats, and the legislative districts for the Assembly and State Senate after the upcoming census.

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R-Pulaski) announced Nesbitt’s appointment. Nesbitt is one of two appointment from the Assembly Republicans. The Assembly Democrats also have two appointments. The State Senate also picks four, with two choices each for the minority and majority conferences. Two other members also will be nominated who aren’t affiliated with either the Democrats or Republicans.

“It’s an honor to be asked to do this,” Nesbitt said today. “It’s a very important job.”

The federal government will soon start the census count, done every 10 years. The legislative districts will be drawn to reflect changes in the state’s population, with growth in some areas and declines in other districts.

New York is expected to lose or two congressional seats as other states have grown at a greater pace than in New York.

Nesbitt, who served 13 years in the Assembly from 1992 to 2005, said he will seek a fair representation of all parts of the state. He said he would be a voice in particular for the rural communities.

Nesbitt was the Assembly Republican leader from 2002-2005. After he left the Assembly he was a commissioner on the State Tax Appeals Tribunal from 2005 to 2016 and was the Tribunal’s president.

Nesbitt was a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War and received the “Distinguished Flying Cross” based on his actions on Nov. 14, 1968. That day Nesbitt and his crew members were told an American soldier was stranded in enemy territory in the jungles of Laos, across the border from Vietnam. Another helicopter had been hit with a rocket and crashed. The crew needed to be rescued. Nesbitt flew a helicopter in and got out everyone, except one gunman, John Grimaldi, who was separated from his crew.

Nesbitt took the recovered crew members back to safety, and then returned to enemy territory to find Grimaldi.

Nesbitt said the Independent Redistricting Commission will likely soon start to organize and hire staff. The upcoming state budget is expected to provide funding some the Commission can do its work.

“Fair districting is important so the interests of voters are protected and preserved,” he said.

He has been through the reapportionment before as Assembly Minority leader.

There will be public hearings, ideally in urban and rural areas. “There should be an appropriate airing of everybody’s concerns on how these lines are drawn,” Nesbitt said.

Nesbitt said he would like each district to represent nearly the same number of people. Sometimes the urban districts have fewer people than rural and suburban districts, which gives the urban areas more representatives.

“One of the goals is to have districts represent the same number as much as possible,” Nesbitt said.

Sometimes Orleans County gets carved up in redistricting, with some towns in different districts. The county currently is entirely within the 27th Congressional District. But the redistricting in 2002 created the “earmuff” congressional district that linked the lakeshore towns of Kendall, Carlton and Yates with the district the touched Rochester and Buffalo.

Steve Hawley’s 139th Assembly District currently has nine of the 10 towns in Orleans County, all of Genesee and part of western Monroe. Michael Norris’s 144th Assembly District has Shelby in Orleans, and parts of Erie and Niagara counties.

Rob Ortt’s 62nd Senate District currently includes all of Orleans, all of Niagara, and two towns in Monroe County – Sweden and Ogden.

Barclay, the current Republican leader in the Assembly, also appointed Keith Wofford to serve on the Commission. He is the co-managing partner of the 400-lawyer New York office of Ropes & Gray, LLP, specializing in bankruptcy and financial cases. Wofford was a candidate for New York State Attorney General in the 2018 election. He is a native of Buffalo and currently resides in New York City.

“This is a critical endeavor and I’m pleased these two respected individuals will take part in the Redistricting Commission,” Barclay said about Nesbitt and Wofford. “Their experience and knowledge of our electoral system and New York’s unique landscape will be important as the Commission moves forward on this endeavor.”

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