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Mayor Brown signs bill for city's new legislative districts, Our City Action Buffalo plans lawsuit

There had been a lot of heated discussion about the district lines that some have called gerrymandering.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Mayor Byron Brown's office announced Monday that he has signed the bill establishing the city's new legislative districts.

There had been a lot of heated discussion about those district lines that some had called gerrymandering but on June 28 the Buffalo Common Council passed it and has now been signed into law.

The city said, "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."

Our City Action Buffalo, which led a grassroots campaign opposing the council-drawn maps, wasn't surprised Mayor Brown signed the bill. 

"They've made this process of very political one when it's absolutely not one," said Leighton Jones, communications director for Our City Action Buffalo. "This is something to make this community better, more racially equitable, fairer."

The community organizers plan to file a lawsuit Tuesday to challenge the map designed by the Common Council. 

"The overwhelming majority that has participated in this process has said that they do not agree with how these maps look with what they represent and with what they do," Jones said.

According to the press release, it states that, "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 city published the public comments that were submitted online. Of the 200 comments submitted, 134 were in favor of Mayor Brown vetoing the bill. 

In the release, Mayor Brown criticized the engagement in the reapportionment process by the public, stating "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."

"Everyone in the city should be able to be a part of this process willingly and be able to access this information in a meaningful way," Jones said. 

One of the contentions OCAB had about the process was that public meetings were held in the middle of the workday when the public wouldn't have time to take off to attend a public meeting. 

2 On Your Side reached out to several councilmembers, including council president Darrius Pridgeon to comment, but none were available Monday night. A spokesperson for Mayor Brown said he would be available for questions sometime Tuesday. 

The archive of the public hearings and online comments can be looked at here.

   

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