By Matt Youngfrau
ALBANY April 12, 2002 In the 2000 census, population shifts have caused New York State to lose two Congressional seats. For the last year, New York State lawmakers have been looking at the districts to figure out how best to redraw the lines.
Sullivan County has four representatives that are affected by the population variations: New York State Assemblyman Jake Gunther, New York State Senator John Bonacic, and United States Congressmen Maurice Hinchey and Ben Gilman. All four men have been jockeying for months to keep representing Sullivan County. And until this week, no one was sure where the lines were going to be drawn.
Some of the pieces began to fall into place on Wednesday. Gunther announced that Assembly Bill 11014, which sets the Senate and Assembly Districts for the next ten years, passed the Assembly. With its passage, Gunther becomes the only assemblyman in the state whose district is completely untouched.
"When the redistricting process began back in January, my desire was to keep the 98th Assembly District exactly the same and, as such, made my request known to the Chairman of the Reapportionment Committee, Assemblyman William Parment (D-Jamestown)," Gunther stated in the press release. "I was pleased that no changes were made to the district and that I am able to continue to serve the residents now and in the future."
Debate on the subject was expected to begin in the State Senate on Wednesday. However, it is generally expected that Bonacic will continue to represent Sullivan County.
On the national level, the picture is not so clear. No one seems to be sure exactly where the chips will fall, and many rumors have circulated. Both Gilman's and Hinchey's representatives said they have been told only that a decision will be made within a month. While changes are expected, those changes may not affect Sullivan County, but realistically, no one will know for sure until next month.