Chemung County’s Parliamentary Government

Chemung County

We’re living in a very diverse world. We are looking now for leadership to reflect the people they’re leading. People are looking for that across the board. When they don’t see that, they question why not. We need a better understanding of why you might not see it in this arena. If it’s not in this arena, and it’s necessary for this arena, what can we do to make sure we get it in there? — NAACP Elmira-Corning Chapter President Georgia Verdier

Having seen first hand just how little the legislature does and the egregiousness of the politics going on between the two branches, almost the play-acting between the two branches, it’s something I want nothing to do with. I ran for this position to try to help the community and the last four years have been a farce, in my opinion. — Chemung Country Legislator Christine Sonsire, one of two women in the County Legislature, who is retiring at the end of her first term.

In principle, the county legislature makes laws and sets policy; the county executive administers the execution of laws and policies. It doesn’t always work well.

A current issue is redistricting. The Chemung County Charter assigns responsibility to the county legislature. The legislature draws district boundaries and submits the plan to voters for approval. The number of districts is fixed at fifteen. County Executive Chris Moss says:

We have way too many legislative districts. We know our population continues to decline. We could be well served with nine legislative districts. It would be a savings for the taxpayer. Fifteen for a population of 84,000 is overkill.

Legislature Chairman David Manchester disagrees. He says that the number is fixed in the charter and is not part of the redistricting process.

Should current legislators design the districts which they run in? This allows legislators to choose their voters as much as vice versa. This is troubling to some due to a lack of diversity in the current legislature which has appointed a redistricting commission of five white males. County Executive Moss asks:

…couldn’t we have found a couple females, a couple African-Americans? Couldn’t we diversify the committee? We have a diverse community here. I think when you hear everybody’s ideas and opinions, it only makes the process better. I think it was set up as a self-serving process.”

Legislature Chairman David Manchester disagrees:

This process is more transparent than it has ever been by hiring an outside consultant leading us through the process.

The redistricting committee has scheduled a public meeting for March 16 at 2:30 p.m. in legislative chambers to provide the public with an overview of the redistricting process, answer questions and receive public input. Chris Potter, March 7, in the Elmira Star-Gazette. (there is a paywall)

About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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