New York’s newly drawn 24th Congressional District raises concerns

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The new map for New York’s 24th congressional district. (New York State Legislative Task Force On Demographic Research And Reapportionment)

SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) — Despite the lawsuit mounted against the newly drawn congressional districts in New York state, local leaders are still preparing for what the new maps mean for their communities. In the case of New York’s 24th District, some leaders said they’re a little puzzled about the map makers’ logic.

Currently, NY-24 includes Syracuse, all of Cayuga County in the Finger Lakes as well as Wayne County along the shore of Lake Ontario.

The existing map for New York’s 24th Congressional District, which is held by Republican Rep. John Katko. Katko said he will retire at the end of the current legislative session. (New York State Legislative Task Force On Demographic Research And Reapportionment)

The proposed new district is very different. It includes many of the counties along the lake, but excludes Rochester and Syracuse. The new map starts at Niagara County and part of Erie County in western New York, goes around most of Monroe County, and stretches all the way east to include most of Jefferson and Oswego counties.

Watertown Mayor Jeff Smith said he’s concerned the needs of his city, which is the largest in the new district, are different from the needs of western New York areas three and a half hours away.

“I just think that whoever drew the map clearly doesn’t understand all of New York state,” said Smith.

Smith was especially concerned to see Fort Drum split into two districts, when it’s currently entire in the 21st District, represented by Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik.

“You’ve got 10th Mountain Division soldiers and families living in two districts right next to each other,” Smith said. “I just think that’s very shameful and a complete disservice to the military men and women and families.”

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said he was also surprised at the map, but he said he can see some similarities across the district.

“It’ll be interesting,” he said. “I think upstate New York is in a lot of the same boat anyway. We have a lot of the same issues, infiltration of drugs being one of them, lakeshore flooding being the other, but it’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out, and I look forward to working with whoever our next representative is.”

As for who that will be, Republican Rep. Chris Jacobs is already throwing his hat in the ring. The Republican currently represents the 27th District in western New York, which no longer exists in the new maps.

Christian Chase, a spokesperson for Jacobs, said the new 24th District contains all or parts of eight counties Jacobs currently represents and specifically addressed the change to Fort Drum.

“Congressman Jacobs is humbled at the prospect of representing Fort Drum. It is a critical national security asset and has a long and significant history with the 10th Mountain Division,” Chase said in a statement. “He looks forward to continuing the record of strong representation in the area by Rep. Stefanik. Congressman Jacobs plans to spend a lot of time in the community learning more and ensuring our service members and veterans have a loud voice in Congress.”