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St. Lawrence County Legislator Lightfoot circulating redistricting petition


A redistricting plan for St. Lawrence County could be on the November ballot next year if Legislator Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Morristown, and his supporters gather enough names on a petition.

“There are options out there that aren’t being considered,” Mr. Lightfoot said.

Mr. Lightfoot was among a minority of lawmakers on the county Board of Legislators who objected to a plan — adopted into local law Nov. 5 — that split Canton from two into three legislative districts and left some in Hammond and Morristown unhappy.

Mr. Lightfoot did not think it made sense for him to represent a piece of the town of Canton and the village of Rensselaer Falls while Hammond, a St. Lawrence River community next to Morristown, should be represented by District 4, whose makeup includes towns in the county’s southern end, including Edwards, Pitcairn, and Fowler, as well as Rossie and Macomb.

“I think it’s important enough the Legislature should have authorized it to be the subject of a referendum,” Mr. Lightfoot said.

However, the board decided to forgo a public vote.

Legislator Alex A. MacKinnon, R-Fowler, who represents Hammond, voted for the referendum and, when that failed, he favored adopting the redistricting plan because it took into account a ruling that eliminated the state prisoner population while causing the least disruption to unaffected towns.

“Small changes were made to accommodate that change,” he said. “The issue is one man, one vote. It’s not town interests. This was the best way to do it.”

Mr. MacKinnon said he understands the wishes of Hammond residents who prefer to align with Morristown, but not to the detriment of other parts of the county.

“There’s no real advantage to change other than in one small area,” he said. “There’s not much support for change in the rest of the district.”

To get on the ballot, Mr. Lightfoot said the petition needs about 1,500 signatures, a number based on a percentage of those who voted in the last gubernatorial election, but he is working on gathering at least 1,700 names for a safety cushion. The petition deadline is Dec. 20.

Mr. Lightfoot said he does not know how many signatures he has already because he has not had an accounting from people who are passing the petitions.

“There are a number of people circulating these things,” he said.

If the issue makes it to the ballot, it would be an up-or-down vote on adoption of the plan approved by the Legislature.

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