Commissioners working to finalize draft maps of new Senate, Assembly and Congressional districts are urging New Yorkers to participate in a series of 14 hearings that begin this week as they edit the plans for submission to the Legislature in January.

The 10 members of the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission will begin a series of hearings mandated under the state Constitution for state residents to provide input on where the new lines should be, especially as New York must lose one of its 27 congressional seats for the next decade.

The first hearing will take place at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Buffalo State College’s Burchfield Penney Art Center.

“We need your help,” Commission Chair David Imamura said Monday. “This process will only work with the input of all New Yorkers.”

The next Western New York hearing will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center multi-purpose room, at 161 Chesnut St.

North Country residents will have a chance to give their input on communities of interest or other groups that should stay together within elective districts at 4 p.m. Oct. 27 at SUNY Plattsburgh’s E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium, Hawkins Hall, at 101 Broad St.

A hearing will take place at 4 p.m. Nov. 1 for the Capital Region at SUNY Albany’s Page Hall on its downtown campus, 135 Western Ave., Albany.

Commissioners and lawmakers alike have encouraged all New Yorkers to participate in providing information to the commission to help identify communities of interest or important areas to keep certain groups of voters together.

“Tell us about how our proposed maps reflect or don’t reflect your communities and how we can change them for the better,” Imamura said. “We cannot draw maps that accurately reflect your communities if we do not hear from you.”

Lawmakers from around the state continue to urge constituents to provide input on the maps, which must go before the Legislature in January, so commissioners present the best, most accurately representative maps for the next decade.

Republican and Democratic commissioners could not agree on one draft, and released dueling sets of maps Sept. 15.

Download and view the draft maps at nyirc.gov/draft-plans

Imamura has said the Democrats did not factor in the homes of New York’s 27 current House members when drafting their initial proposal, leaning on commissioners’ months of work ahead of them to reform the maps.

All New Yorkers, stakeholders and interested members of the public can share feedback at a hearing closest to them. For the full list of scheduled hearings, visit nyirc.gov/meetings. A person must be a state resident and provide their name and county of residence to testify.

Hearings will last several hours, depending on the number of participants in each region. Commission staffers work with each person, who will have three minutes to speak, to schedule their testimony.

Written comments, maps and visuals can be submitted to commissioners without attending a hearing at nyirc.gov/participate-submit-testimony

“This redistricting cycle is a historic one, as it is the first to take place under an independent commission,” according to a statement from the commission Monday about the upcoming hearings. “We look forward to hearing from New Yorkers as this once-in-a-decade process moves forward.”

The state is mandated to draw new Assembly, Senate and Congressional district lines once per decade after the completion of the U.S. Census that reflects population and demographic changes.

State legislators drafted and approved the maps until voters in 2014 largely approved a change to the state Constitution creating the bipartisan commission.

The commission held eight preliminary hearings this summer to maximize public participation in the redistricting process. The listening sessions were not constitutionally mandated.

Hearings will be livestreamed, archived and posted on the commission’s website.

View archived testimony, comments and maps from residents in your region made about over the summer at nyirc.gov/submissions

The Independent Redistricting Commission has temporary offices at 250 Broadway in Manhattan and at 302A Washington Ave., in Albany.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1