Local leaders react to congressional redistricting
Big changes are on the way in the North Country, as a federal court in Brooklyn formally approves New York's new congressional districts. Our Matt Hunter reports.
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WARREN COUNTY, N.Y. – North Country residents are getting a new representative in Congress; that is, those residents who aren't already represented by Congressman Bill Owens of Plattsburgh.
"I wish Mr. Gibson good luck and welcome Mr. Owens to come pay us a visit," Stony Creek Town Supervisor Frank Thomas said Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday evening, a federal judge in Brooklyn formally approved New York's new congressional district borderlines.
The changes take Warren, Washington and northern Saratoga Counties out of the current 20th District, represented by Chris Gibson of Kinderhook, and shifts them into Owens' expansive 21st District, which will now encompass the entire North Country and Adirondack Park.
Some local leaders expect being represented by a fellow North Country resident will pay instant dividends.
"I think a Congressman from a more northern district might see our problems a little better than having to also deal with what's going down around the Capital Region," Thomas said. “It’s kind of two different things.”
"I've lived all my life in the Adirondacks, spent my entire life working in the Adirondacks and there is a difference," Lake George Town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said.
One aspect that's raised concern among some, including Dickinson, is the enormous size of the new district.
"You take situations like Irene, the storm and all the devastation we had going around the entire park, one person? I mean, that's a lot, I don't see it," Dickinson said.
Other local leaders had differences of opinion.
In phone interviews Lake George Village Mayor Robert Blais and Warrensburg Town Supervisor Kevin Geraghty both said they were pleased with the region's past and current representation in Washington, D.C. but said gaining a Congressman from the North Country should prove to be an advantage.
Meanwhile, South Glens Falls Mayor Keith Donohue, who campaigned for Gibson in the past, said he's disappointed to see the Congressman move to a new district.
If re-elected, Gibson would represent the newly formed 19th District which stretches from the Capital Region south to near the New Jersey border.
The changes take effect following the November elections, in which both Gibson and Owens are trying to retain their seats.