PLATTSBURGH — Work is under way on redistricting the six wards in the City of Plattsburgh.
The newly-formed five-member Redistricting Committee is charged with the task of re-shaping the wards to conform to the population requirements determined by the 2010 census.
“I am very confident that this committee will be fair in their final determinations,” Mayor Donald Kasprzak said.
The committee, which met for the first time last week, is chaired by Peter Ensel, and also features Becky Kasper, Anne-Marie Farrell, Peggy de Grandpre and James Barcomb. Ward 4 Councilor and Mayor Pro Tem James Calnon serves as liaison.
Throughout U.S. history, cities and states have been known to manipulate redistricting efforts using a method called gerrymandering, to install advantages for certain political parties.
A measure was inserted in the City Charter in 1993 as a means to prevent such practices. It says that no more than two members of the committee can belong to the same political affiliation.
Farrell and Barcomb are Republicans, Ensel and de Grandpre are independents, and Kasper is a Democrat.
The mayor, a Repubican who appointed Kasper, said he believes politics will not enter the process.
“I truly believe that this group will put aside all ideology and do the right thing,” he said.
In the 2010 census, the city had 19,989 people, meaning that each of the six wards has to have about 3,332. The committee is allowed a variance of 5 percent above and below that figure, which would put the range at 3,248 and 3,415.
The committee will have to examine the city’s population and adjust boundary lines based on where population increased and decreased. It must also take into consideration natural boundaries such as rivers and lakes, and county legislative districts and voting districts.
Ward 2 experienced the most change in the past decade, as new developments from the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base property have sprung up, increasing the population.
“We are still very early in the process, and we have to take a closer look at the numbers to see where the changes need to be made, and we will go from there,” Ensel said.
He said each ward will see some changes, but it does not appear that there will be any major shifts.
“There will be changes. There has to be,” he said. “But we are going to try to make this as logical and as smooth as possible without trying to impact a lot of people.”
The committee will continue to meet throughout the summer. Ensel said he hopes to have a final plan complete sometime in the fall.
It must be approved by the Common Council before it can be put in place for the 2013 election.
Email Joe LoTemplio: