Cattaraugus County lawmakers reject congressional redistricting map

This New York redistricting map was drawn by Democrats on the Independent Redistricting Commission. Eliminated in this version is the 23rd Congressional District of the Southern Tier.

LITTLE VALLEY — Cattaraugus County lawmakers voted Wednesday to reject the proposed congressional redistricting map that would chop up the Southern Tier district the county has been a part of for decades.

“Cattaraugus County rejects the Independent Redistricting Commission’s map that puts the Southern Tier counties with the Buffalo and Niagara Falls region,” a resolution cosponsored by the 16-member Republican caucus states.

“The Southern Tier communities have nothing in common with these large urban and suburban areas and will be overpowered by them,” it adds.

The legislature’s lone Democrat, David Koch of Salamanca, supported the resolution blasting the redistricting commission’s recommendation. It was approved without comment.

In the resolution, lawmakers note that residents of the Southern Tier need a strong voice in Washington, D.C. “We have distinct needs that cannot be watered down or ignored by having our communities merged into areas dominated by Buffalo and Niagara Falls that do not share our priorities, interests or way of life.”

Traditionally, the resolution states, “the differences between the Southern Tier and Western and Central New York have been mirrored in the Congressional and State Legislative district boundaries. This distinction ensured that the government in Washington and Albany paid attention to the Southern Tier region and was focused on the area’s unique needs.”

Other points:

• The Southern Tier counties’ economy, health systems, education, infrastructure and culture “all are homogenous. They all receive recognition from the federal government as needing unique assistance through the Appalachian Regional Commission.”

• The resolution points out that agriculture and related industries such as food manufacturing and processing are main economic drivers, in addition to some larger manufacturers, in the district. “Moreover, the area is heavily reliant on small businesses. All of these characteristics would be overpowered by being in a district in the Buffalo and Niagara regions.”

• Access to quality health care is a primary concern of the lawmakers. Rural areas need more primary care physicians, and rural hospitals and emergency rooms need to be kept open.

• Infrastructure funding for roads, bridges, sewer, water and broadband are needed and cannot be siphoned off by larger, more powerful urban and suburban areas.

The resolution concludes by “strongly urging” the redistricting commission “to make every effort to preserve New York’s 23rd Congressional District’s existing boundaries.”

The combination of New York state losing two congressional seats and Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, not seeking re-election made it easier for the commission to fold parts of the current 23rd Congressional District into other districts to the north from Buffalo to the Finger Lakes.

ALSO WEDNESDAY, legislators approved a resolution to contract with the city of Olean for an $85,000 capital expense at the Cattaraugus County-Olean Municipal Airport owned and operated by the city.

The funds, which were included in the 2021 county budget, will be used to pay for professional services for design for the snow removal equipment building pavement reconstruction project.

Legislature Chairman Howard VanRensselaer also presented a proclamation to Lynn Anzivine, president of the Pink Pumpkin Project, for the group’s efforts to raise funds to help residents with breast cancer.

• A contract with CH2M Hill BWXT West Valley LLC, the contractor for the cleanup at the West Valley Demonstration Project, was approved for security services by the Sheriff’s Office through Sept. 30, 2022 for $195,386.

• Legislators approved creation of a personal care aide position in the Department of Aging for unmet needs levels of care available due to the shortage of staff in the area of home health care. The post pays $17.77 per hour and will be paid from a two-year grant received by the Department of Aging.

• Legislators approved the transfer of 3.17 miles of Dublin Road in the town of Mansfield to the town in return for accepting two bridges on Jersey Hollow Road and Kent Road. The county will also pay the town $200,000.

• The county will receive a $50,000 grant from the state’s Stop Violence Against Women Program as seed money for Justice Center for Children and Families Inc. It is a five-year grant intended to develop, implement and sustain a family justice center in the county.

A resolution supported Operation Green Light, which will help military service members transitioning to civilian life after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Veterans Service Officer Steve McCord told legislators the county’s support of soldiers transitioning to civilian life is very important, particularly because the first year of civilian life is most stressful and the risk of suicide is greatest. He thanked them for supporting the resolution.