County Legislature doesn’t want another ‘earmuff’ congressional district

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 November 2021 at 5:31 pm

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature doesn’t want to see the northern part of the county again used in an “earmuff” district that connects Rochester to the Niagara frontier.

County legislators last week passed a resolution stating their preference for the county to be included in a district with “communities of interest” – other rural counties rather than a metro area 80 miles away.

The northern lakeshore towns of Yates, Carlton and Kendall were included in the now obsolete 28th Congressional District that was represented by Louise Slaughter until it was done away with redistricting in 2013.

That district “clearly violated the generally accepted criteria for good-government redistricting, particularly in terms of compactness and preservation of communities of interest,” according to a resolution from the Legislature.

The county the past 8 years has been in the 27th Congressional District, which includes all or parts of eight counties, including the rural GLOW counties.

Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson said she wants to see Orleans remain in a district with similar nearby rural counties. She doesn’t want to see the county to be a tag-on to a district dominated by either Erie or Monroe County.

“We just don’t feel we’re like Erie and Monroe County with the way we do business as a small-county government,” Johnson said during a Legislature meeting last Wednesday.

If the county is added to a district that includes Monroe or Erie, Johnson said that district should include other rural counties, such as Genesee and Wyoming, in addition to Orleans.

“Folding any Orleans County towns into a district with a core in the city of Rochester is inconsistent with the principles of a sound redistricting plan,” the Legislature said in its resolution.

The Legislature’s declaration was sent to the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission, members of the State Assembly and State Senate, as well as the offices of the representatives of the 25th, 26th and 27th congressional districts.