January 31, 2001

Census Results Could Change Representation of City of Ithaca

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With the Census Bureau’s 1999 estimates pointing towards a population decrease, the city of Ithaca could lose a seat on the County Board of Representatives, when official results become available this spring.

The figures will be released in March or April, according to Barbara Mink, county board chair. Following the release of this information, reapportionment of the Ithaca Common Council and the County Board of Representatives will take place.

“The question that will determine whether we lose a city council or board position will depend upon how much of a decrease in population we have,” Mink said. “There have been trends suggesting that the city is decreasing in population, but other places have been gaining in population. My understanding is that if the decrease is under eight percent, we will not have a loss. If it is over eight percent, we will.”

The population of the city of Ithaca is not the only component that could affect the reapportionment of representatives. “We don’t have to lose residents to lose a seat,” said City council member Josh Glasstetter ’01 (D- 4th). “If Lansing, for example, grows faster in population than the city or if the city stays the same, we could still lose a seat.”

The population balance change would cause a shift of representation from the city to surrounding areas. Considering the city of Ithaca’s often stand-out liberal views, the issue has been consuming government officials, as well as residents, according to Glasstetter.

“The main impact I believe this situation will have will be the shifting of power to the suburbs of Ithaca, which tend to have a different political ideology than the city,” said Glasstetter. “As a student, and someone living in the city who prefers that kind of urban flavor, I’d like to see the representation stay with the city.”

Even if the census proves the significant decrease in population, the task of reapportionment will not be completed before the next city and council elections in November.

“There’s no way the complex process of redistricting could take place by then, so the November elections should not be affected by the results released in March or April,” Mink said.

Archived article by Aylin Tanyeri