BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — On Tuesday, the Buffalo Common Council voted on a newly-drawn map for the city’s districts.
Every 10 years, the map gets re-drawn to better reflect the city’s population. During the Noon meeting in Buffalo’s Common Council Chambers, council members voted in approval of it.
A draft of the map was released by the city’s Citizen’s Commission on Reapportionment during a public meeting in May. Council president Darius Pridgen said only a few people attended that hearing.
During the vote, some residents stood in the chambers and yelled out their complaints about the map. Some people said the new map doesn’t represent population changes and splits communities.
“We must take time to draft boundaries that go beyond population equality and meet growing public demands for social and racial equity in Buffalo,” one resident said.
“I’ve never seen a district map done where somebody didn’t say gerrymandering,” Pridgen said.
Pridgen said all maps needs to come through the commission, but when residents approached council with new ones, they paused the process to see if they could consider them.
“Unfortunately the first map that was sent to us created new districts which you cannot do by law. To create new districts you must have a referendum the people as whole have to vote on that and some other issues that were there that would not allow us to use that map,” he said.
Some people who attended today say they’re concerned the new map could take voting power away from minority communities.
“Splitting neighborhoods, disrespecting BIPOC residents, all but ignoring requirements to keep districts compact and with regular shapes,” said India Walton.
“OCAB’s map will give Black people, whose census data shows make up 35% of the city’s population, four districts with strong voting power while the council’s map will give them only three,” another resident said.
“Ellicott district still remains predominately minority, Masten district, University district and then there’s a high level of minorities in the Fillmore district so I don’t know where that comes from but I respect it. But I can tell you this, I’ll just get right down to it: it wasn’t done to take anything away from anybody,” Pridgen said.
The mayor will now hold a public hearing before he decides whether or not to approve the map. Details of the hearing are to be determined.
Here is the proposed map:
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