Kingston, NY – Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and multiple community leaders met this morning to urge interested Ulster County residents to join the pool of candidates for the Charter-created Reapportionment Commission. This effort is being undertaken sooner, rather than later, so that every opportunity is made to provide a diverse pool of eligible Commissioners to the Legislature. The County Executive is seeking individuals who will design fair and equitable election districts which will be in effect for the next ten years. This action is designed to counteract partisan politics when redrawing election district lines and avoid gerrymandering. The Ulster County Charter calls upon the County Executive to establish a diverse pool of interested Ulster County residents from which Legislative leaders from both parties must choose the Reapportionment Commission.
"This is an important and historic task," said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein. "It’s an opportunity for the citizens of Ulster County to create a fair and level playing field. We need dedicated, honest and hard-working volunteers to make this a reality; and I thank all the advocates of good government who are joining me in this effort."
Good government leaders who spoke today included Blair Horner, Legislative Director, NYPIRG (New York Public Interest Research Group); Dr. Gerald Benjamin, Associate Vice President for Regional Engagement and Director of CRREO at SUNY New Paltz and former Chair of the Ulster County Charter Commission; and Dare Thompson, President, League of Women Voters of the Mid-Hudson Region.
"What Ulster County is preparing to undertake can be a model for New York State, which begins its redistricting process next year," said Blair Horner, Legislative Director of NYPIRG.
"I am delighted that we have reached the point where we are beginning a process to assure fairness in representation in the Legislature in Ulster County," said Dr. Benjamin.
"The League has been fighting for fairness in elections for a very long time," said Dare Thompson. It is so exciting to see this type of initiative right here in Ulster County. We hope that people will step forward and participate in this process."
The County Executive requested that these good government advocates as well as all Ulster County citizens watch and evaluate this redistricting process under the new Charter form of government.
Commission members must be Ulster County residents, eligible to register to vote and cannot be public officers or employees. Anyone interested in participating can apply on the County’s website: www.ulstercountyny.gov. The deadline for applying is Friday, October 29, 2010.