Kingston, NY –This morning, County Executive Mike Hein signed a resolution adopting a local law (a link to the law is below) which creates 23 single-member legislative districts for election of Ulster County legislators in November 2011. This is the first time in Ulster County history that an independent body drew the legislative district lines. Commissioner Members included: Paul Benkert, Vernon Benjamin, Michael Catalinotto, Cynthia Lowe, Richard Messina, Dare Thompson and William West. The 7- member non-partisan Commission worked diligently to craft districts that are in the best interests of Ulster County residents, not political parties and elected officials.
"I want to thank the members of the Ulster County Reapportionment Commission for their impartiality and diligence in this process," said County Executive Hein. "This Commission counteracted partisan politics when redrawing election district lines and avoided gerrymandering. This is a great example of government at its finest. Their hard work is appreciated by all Ulster County voters."
Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, founder of New York Uprising, said: "Impartial redistricting is the single most important reform for achieving a government that is more effective, accountable, and trustworthy. I applaud Ulster County and its political leadership for adopting a plan that will serve the residents of that county well. All New Yorkers deserve the same on the state level, where our lawmakers have less than a month to follow Ulster's lead in adopting an impartial plan; if they refuse, Governor Cuomo has stated he will use his veto to ensure that the courts do the job for them."
"Ulster County has shown the way to draw district lines that reflect the interests of voters, not political parties. Their example should serve as a beacon to other governments across New York State," said Bill Mahoney, Research Coordinator at the New York Public Interest Group (NYPIRG).
"The League of Women Voters of New York State is very pleased that Ulster County has completed its municipal redistricting process by means of an independent redistricting committee," said Barbara Bartoletti, Legislative Director of the League of Women Voters of New York State. "The Mid-Hudson League of Women Voters participated in the process which was open and resolved its issues in a timely manner."
"I am delighted with the outcome, and the statewide leadership we are providing as Albany seeks to establish a fair, impartial districting process similar to ours for the state legislature. And I am extraordinarily grateful for the work of dedicated citizen volunteers and skilled county staff that made this success possible," said Dr. Gerald Benjamin, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Director of CRREO.
"As the most recent charter county, Ulster County has demonstrated the innovative nature of local government. County Executive Michael Hein and the Ulster County legislature have truly led by example and the citizens of Ulster County are well served," said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario.
Local Law No. 1 of 2011, "A Local Law To Provide For 23 Single-Member Legislative Districts For Election Of Ulster County Legislators Commencing With The Election Of 2011 For Two-Year Terms Beginning January 1, 2012 And Thereafter" can be found at: http://ulstercountyny.gov/resolutions/LL%20No.%201%20of%202011.pdf