By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO November 16, 2001 When Sullivan County switched from a board of supervisors to a legislative form of government in 1995, nine equally populous districts were created for fair representation in the legislature.
In the last six years, there has not only been a population increase but a population shift in the county, especially in the towns of Mamakating, Fallsburg, and Thompson. As such, district lines need to be redrawn before the next legislative election in November 2003.
A discussion and a presentation on redistricting took place at the Sullivan County Legislature's General Services Committee meeting on Thursday, November 8. Committee Chair Chris Cunningham stated they would ease into the process and introduced Phillip Chonigman and Marc Gronich, partners of the firm GeoPolitical Strategies (GPS).
GPS first formed at the beginning of this year and has done a variety of redistricting consulting in Westchester, Dutchess, and Rockland counties.
Chonigman outlined several dos and donts of the upcoming process: DO careful planning, DO get input from everyone, and DO give the community an opportunity to be heard; DONT exclude anyone from the process, DONT rush it, DONT be careless, and DONT ignore the rules.
Legislators were hopeful to keep the 63 voting districts intact. Although Chonigman informed them that they did not have to do that, he said he would follow whatever directives they gave him. He estimated it would take four months to have a plan prepared.
Cunningham stated that they would look at other companies to see what they offer, and the county will send out a request for a proposal (known as an RFP). GPS will be among those submitting bids.