TOWN OF CLAY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The first two in a series of six public hearings were held Friday in the Towns of Clay and LaFayette so people could share their input on redrawing the lines of Onondaga County’s legislative districts.

Seven people spoke to the commissioners in attendance, five of whom Republicans say are volunteers with the Democratic Party. Most of their comments criticized Republican’s scheduling of the meetings and what they feel is a rushed timeline.

Barbara Evanoff, from Cicero, says she’d like her district redrawn, but was disappointed drafts of new maps weren’t available yet.

She said, “We’re here to speak on something and we have nothing to look at. The only way we’re going to get an opportunity to look at a map they come up with is go to a meeting that happens after the maps come out. Right now, we’re talking blind here and I don’t think that’s fair.”

Republican Dave Knapp, on the commission because of his chairmanship on the Onondaga County Legislature, said more maps should be available for next week’s meetings. When asked, he said he’d add more meetings afterward, “if need be.”

Another complaint has been the number of meetings and timing, some scheduled during the workday.

Steven Bolewski, of Marcellus, showed up to the meeting a half-hour after it started, but was too late.

He asked, “Why are we going to rush this thing through in the middle of the day when they know they’re not going to get any attendance?”

Democrat Dustin Czarny, who’s on the reapportionment committee as the Democratic Elections Commissioner, said after the first meeting: “I wish it was better attended. I wish it was longer. I wish it was not in the middle of the day. I wish the chairman, Kevin Hulslander, who set the schedule, was here like the other five commissioners. That was my objection to this schedule, to begin with.”

Hulslander has previously told NewsChannel 9 not every commissioner has to attend every meeting because the comments are transcribed and the hearings are not meant to be interactive with commissioners.

Chairman Knapp said, “It’s really tough to come up with the time that’s convenient for everybody. We tried to spread them around. Next week, there’s a couple in the evening.”

When asked about cramming the meetings into about one week, Knapp said, “We intentionally did that. People are thinking about this right now. We thought it was a good time. The people will be involved. You get into the holiday season, people get distracted.”

The Onondaga County Legislature has built a website with information, meeting schedule and public comment email address for the Reapportionment Commission.

A sixth meeting in early November has been added, according to Chairman Knapp. Czarny said he hasn’t been informed of this.

Redistricting Public Hearings

  • Friday, October 22: 11am at Clay Town Hall
  • Friday, October 22: 4pm at LaFayette Town Hall
  • Wednesday, October 27: 6pm at Onondaga County Legislature in Downtown Syracuse
  • Thursday, October 28: 5:30pm at St. Michael’s Luterhan Church in Camillus
  • Friday, October 29: 10am at East Syracuse Village Court
  • NEWLY ADDED – Wednesday, November 10: Time TBA at Onondaga County Legislature in Downtown Syracuse

Knapp says the Onondaga County Executive will set his own public hearing on the process.