Buffalo, NY—Today, Mayor Byron W. Brown signed Local Law Intro #1 – Amending Article One of the Charter of the City of Buffalo in relation to describing the legal boundaries for the City’s nine Council districts. Mayor Brown thoroughly reviewed all written comments submitted online (200) and heard from members of the public (26) that chose to speak at the hearing mandated by the City’s charter. 278,349 Buffalonians are currently living in nine (9) council districts and represented by members elected to represent each district.
As set forth in the Charter, the Citizen’s Commission on Reapportionment comprised of nine members, five appointed by the Council President (Darien J. Pratchett, Leah M. Halton-Pope, Mohammad H. Rhman, Lucy Candelario, and Robert Sienkiewicz) and four appointed by the Mayor (David Franczyk, Charley H. Fisher, III, Keri D. Callocchia, and Luis Rodriguez, Sr). The Commission met five times (April 20, May 4, May 11, May 18 (which was a Public Hearing), and May 19) and then submitted their proposal to the Common Council for review.
On Tuesday June 28th, the Common Council submitted a local law (22-1072 - CC - Pridgen - Local Law Intro #1 - Amend Council Boundaries) amending the district lines in the City Charter. The Common Council hosted a public hearing on the same day. Although any attempted vote on the item in council chambers turned contentious, with black Councilmembers being called “Uncle Tom” (by white members of a political organization opposed to the map put forth by The Citizen’s Commission on Reapportionment) and “molester”, the Common Council met all legal requirements as set forth by the City Charter, and the public was given ample time to comment, either electronically and/or in person. The Common Council submitted an amendment to the proposed map (Item 21-1152) on July 12 and then unanimously passed the map seven days later on July 19.
All comments submitted online, as well as a transcript of the public hearing at the Burchfield Penny Art Gallery, are available on the City’s website at buffalony.gov/publiccomment. To encourage public engagement, the City’s website was set up to allow public comment over a week before the public hearing. Taking into account the comments, less than one-tenth of a percentage of the City’s total population weighed in. There was not overwhelming opposition as erroneously described by some and this number of comments does not represent a ‘significant’ amount of Buffalo’s Population.
Many of the comments stated that the Council’s approved map is worse for minority voting power. There are seven majority minority districts in the Council’s approved map (Ellicott, Fillmore, Lovejoy, Masten, Niagara, North, and University) as compared to only six in the alternative map. Any claim that the Council’s map reduces the likelihood of minority voting power or weakens voting rights is absolutely false.
The following is a break-down of the comments submitted online by council district and city/town:
In addition, the following is a break-down of the comments made in-person at the public hearing by council district and city/town:
Again, the Citizen’s Commission on Reapportionment and the Common Council met all legal requirements set forth by the City Charter, and as such Mayor Brown signed the Local Law Intro #1 into law. The final redistricting plan will now be transmitted to the Erie County and New York State Board of Elections.