Redistricting Onondaga County: What Republicans Accomplished is the Construction of an Electoral Viaduct, a Berlin Wall Against Democracy


“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” – Lord Action 

The aforementioned quote sums up the debate and vote that establishes redrawn district lines for the Onondaga County Legislature effective for the next ten years. The process discarding any pretense of fairness, had all the makings of a shotgun wedding. Except this is Redistricting, the divvying up of power, impacting the very policies that govern our county over the next decade.

The most glaring obstacle to fairness is the breaking up of what had been a reliable Black population, large enough to have a voting bloc. This bloc of votes elects the representative on the Onondaga County Legislature from the 16th District. This enables the election of a representative of the geographic area to articulate the issues that plague some of our poorest residents, persons that by law the county is responsible for, Medicaid, Social Services, public assistance, etc.

The Republicans might as well have placed an electoral viaduct between populations that have traditionally made up the 16th Legislative District, splitting it in half substantially weakening Black voting power at the ballot box. A district with a Black population now conveniently split between legislators guarantees the dilution of the already truncated electoral voice of the Black Community.

In local politics, the chasm between republicans and democrats hasn’t mirrored the national Republican Party until now, this crucial vote was a test of electoral fairness in action. The Legislature in its rush to adopt a plan, failed in their assessment as this carved up turkey of a map is not fair.

The proof of their commitment is in their legislative actions. Therefore, it doesn’t matter how many community events Republican politicians attend. Or how many photographs are released with Republican politicians mutually smiling with Black leaders, Pastors, Bishops, and Honorary Doctorate holders, power was snatched away with a quickness. Despite calls to give the Redistricting process more time.  The so-called Public Hearing Notice was mysteriously hidden, not widely distributed giving very little real-time review of this pre-Thanksgiving electoral carving.

This vote was about power, plain and simple and the impartial method of redistricting that Republicans reneged on once it became time to act. This is about more than broken promises, it’s about being fair to everyone in Onondaga County, Republicans are doing everything in their power to hold onto power.

As Lord Action famously said, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

As a result of this Redistricting Plan adopted by the Onondaga County Legislature, Black voting power has been diluted like a poorly made pitcher of Grape Kool-Aid, raisins in the potato salad and almonds in the collard greens. The only way to fight is at the Polls and by turning out in large numbers. That’s the only power that frightens a politician, the fear of being voted out of office. An energized voting urban electorate can still prevail. Its’ just going to be a bit more difficult.

Remember the political adage attributed to William Powell (among others) for those waiting for power to be handed over; “Power is not a material possession that can be given, it is the ability to act. Power must be taken; it is never given.”