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Redistricting petition drive fails

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A petition drive to have the St. Lawrence County redistricting plan on the ballot in November failed for lack of signatures.

“It falls on my shoulders. I’m the one that initiated this,” Legislator Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg, said. “It is dead.”

Mr. Lightfoot and his supporters have been circulating petitions that would put the plan, adopted by county legislators Nov. 5, up for a public vote. Mr. Lightfoot faulted the plan because it splits Canton from two to three districts and does not combine Hammond with the district that includes Morristown.

“Whoever represents District 3 in 2015 will have a part of the town of Canton and Rensselaer Falls,” he said.

Thursday was the deadline to turn in petitions with at least 1,460 names.

“We got about half of what we needed,” Mr. Lightfoot said. “We gave it a try.”

Mr. Lightfoot thanked those who had circulated the petitions and said they were hampered by the timing of the legislative vote, which forced them to gather names during the holidays and when the weather was cold.

“Had I been able to do this when candidates are circulating petitions, it would have been a different story,” Mr. Lightfoot said.

In May, legislators picked a redistricting plan prompted by population changes in the last census and authorized County Attorney Michael C. Crowe to draft a local law which was subject to a permissive referendum.

A majority of legislators preferred the plan that was adopted because it did not disrupt the bulk of districts in the county and had a population disparity of 12 percent, lower than the court-approved maximum of 16 percent.

Regardless of what legislators thought of the plan that was adopted, they should have presented it to the public, Mr. Lightfoot said.

“I really think the board missed an opportunity when they did not allow it to come to a public vote,” he said.

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