KINGSTON, NY — Aldermen is considering hiring consultants to help the city analyze census data and other requirements as part of a municipal redistricting process that could redraw the boundaries of individual Kingston wards.
City Corporation lawyer Barbara Graves-Poller told the city council’s finance and audit committee at a meeting Wednesday that Kingston must go through a municipal redistricting process every 10 years. She said the process is based on federal census data, but must also take into account recent legislative changes to protect the right to vote, among other things.
Graves-Poller said the city must complete its redistricting process and adopt a new map through local law before the 2023 primary election.
“Unlike some other municipalities in New York State, our municipal charter provides few criteria for the redistricting process,” Graves-Poller said in a letter to aldermen. “At the same time, recent redistricting litigation and voter protection legislation raise questions about the ward delineation process missing from past redistricting efforts.”
Graves-Poller said his suggestion would be for the city to work with Professor Jeffrey Wice and other expert consultants affiliated with the New York Census and Redistricting Institute at New York Law School and the Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz. She said those experts would provide legal advice to council on redistricting requirements and potential litigation issues. They would also analyze census data and other documents to provide recommendations on revising the boundaries of the city’s nine wards, if necessary, Graves-Poller said.
At his request, the committee approved a resolution to use $6,000 from the city’s provident fund to hire consultants to help with the redistricting process. The resolution still needs to be voted on by the full council, which meets again next month.
Graves-Poller said his office will draft current local law outlining any changes to city ward boundaries. She said the local law would be presented to the council, which is expected to hold two separate “readings” on the legislation before voting on whether to pass it.