In order to ensure that there is a fair and just process, pertaining to the redistricting/reapportionment of Buffalo’s council districts, Our City Action Buffalo (OCAB) is ramping up the fight in advance of Mayor Brown”s public hearing, which is currently scheduled for next Wednesday, August 3 at 10am at The Burchfield-Penney Art Center.
A notice is on the City’s website, and public comment is now open. OCAB is asking the Mayor to postpone the meeting, so that it can be held at a time when working people can attend. Also, OCAB is asking the Mayor to veto the Council’s map. While the Council has enough votes to override a veto, OCAB is asking him to consider the voice of the people “and do the right thing.” There is also an opportunity to challenge the Council’s map in court, depending on the outcome.
The following statement was is from Adam Bojak, from Our City Action Buffalo:
Every 10 years, the City of Buffalo takes a deep look at its neighborhoods and communities, and redraws the boundaries of the districts represented in the City’s Common Council.
The process starts with an appointed review commission creating recommended boundaries, which are first reviewed by the Common Council, and then sent to the Mayor for final approval. The final boundaries are then amended into the City Charter, with the elected officials for each district serving a term of four years.
When doing this work, the Buffalo City Charter states that “established social, racial, ethnic, or other ties shall be preserved.” This formula for “redistricting” is backed up by state and federal laws designed to protect voting rights, and to ensure equitable representation of the City’s residents.
Because of the term of office and representation provided to those who elect them, the impact of the boundaries set in the City Charter is vast and long-ranging.
And yet, in 2022–a year that has brought incalculable pain and anguish to established and beloved communities in Buffalo–it appears the “redistricting” is to preserve not community ties, but the jobs and power of current Common Council members. Even more telling, when a hard look is taken at the numbers, it appears to dilute the vote of certain communities by blending them with others.
This is not just a “Buffalo as usual” problem–it is a legal issue, requiring legal skill and statistical expertise to counter. More importantly, it requires the informed and engaged awareness of the most impacted people. A legal action to challenge the suspected gerrymandering will be costly, but it also MUST be connected to the people it will advocate for in the meaning time, and resources must be used to stay connected with the impacted communities.
Buffalo has made promises that things are going to change, but promises don’t get it done. By supporting the “2022 Buffalo Equitable Redistricting” initiative, you support a community-engaged, deep-dive, into-the-bones effort to ensure equitable and accountable representation for Buffalo’s most vulnerable communities.
2022 is the year for action. To support this initiative, donate to OCAB’s legal fund.
Join OCAB on Tuesday, August 2nd at 7pm for a virtual meeting on redistricting, as they recap the Council’s recent approval of their gerrymandered maps and prepare for Mayor Brown‘s public hearing at the Burchfield Penney Art Center on Wednesday, August 3 at 10am at The Burchfield Penney.