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St. Lawrence County legislators given a third redistricting plan

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CANTON — St. Lawrence County legislators were presented with a third redistricting plan Monday that gives Canton two legislators rather than the three it had under both previous plans, but which also makes significant changes in the southern and western parts of the county.

The county Planning Office developed the third plan at the request of Legislator Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg.

Mr. Lightfoot had come up with the second alternate plan because he did not like one proposed by Legislators Vernon D. “Sam” Burns, D-Ogdensburg, and Frederick S. Morrill, D-DeKalb Junction. Mr. Lightfoot, a member of the county’s redistricting committee along with Mr. Burns and Mr. Morrill, said he asked for the third plan because he thought it is more fair to Canton.

“I don’t want to split up Canton more,” Mr. Lightfoot said.

He said the third plan also opens up the southern part of the county, giving residents of Clifton and Fine more of a chance to get involved in county politics because they would be less dominated by larger populations in towns within their current districts.

The redistricting is due to population shifts recorded by the last census and a state decision that prison inmates cannot be counted as local residents at two correctional facilities in Ogdensburg and one in Gouverneur.

All three of the plans will be the subject of a public hearing at 5 p.m. Monday.

The third plan would split Canton into districts now represented by Democrat Stephen M. Putman and Republican Kevin D. Acres. Both of the two other plans would divide Canton into three parts.

In the third plan, Mr. Lightfoot’s District 3 would pick up Hammond, which he thought made more sense as his district represents Morristown but not part of the town of Canton.

District 4, represented by Alex A. MacKinnon, R-Fowler, would take Clifton and Fine from Mr. Morrill’s District 6. District 4 would also take Clare from District 7, which is represented by Scott M. Sutherland, R-Pierrepont.

District 5, that of Legislator Donald A. Peck, R-Gouverneur, would represent Gouverneur and Rossie. There would be minor changes in the village of Massena.

The earlier plans had an overall population deviation of slightly under 12 percent. The third plan has the greatest deviation at 15.9 percent, just under the 16 percent that the state says should be the maximum.

Mr. Morrill, Mr. Peck and Mr. MacKinnon did not have a good first impression of the third plan because of the greater population deviation.

Dividing the county into more distinct zones, such as those within the Adirondack Park and the St. Lawrence River communities, might be possible if there were dramatic shifts overall, Mr. Morrill said.

“If you want it to be perfect, you have to start the whole thing over but the committee decided they didn’t want to make giant changes,” he said.

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