Board fails to OK districts

FONDA – The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors tabled a resolution Tuesday to establish the districts for the new county Legislature.

Some supervisors said they were confused about changes to the districts’ layouts, and the lack of maps for the proposed districts at the meeting.

In November, Montgomery County voters approved a new charter that will change the county’s form of government.

The charter requires a hearing on the legislative districts and the Board of Supervisors’ approval before it can go into effect in January 2014.

The charter calls for a county legislature and an elected county executive. The charter replaces the current system of a Board of Supervisors with nine district legislators.

On Tuesday, supervisors decided a Committee of the Whole meeting will be called in the near future to discuss the layouts of the districts and establish a final draft of maps for the districts.

The districts were originally split based on census data, but they were altered during a meeting in December.

At the time, officials said the alterations were meant to give each district a population within a 5 percent margin of difference from other districts.

At the meeting Tuesday, Amsterdam 3rd Ward Supervisor Ronald J. Barone and other members of the Board of Supervisors defended a host of revisions proposed by the Board of Elections to the districts.

Almost 1,900 residents – 1,492 from in the city of Amsterdam – would be in different districts than originally proposed.

Montgomery County Democratic Committee Chairwoman Bethany Schumann-McGhee spoke during the meeting Tuesday. She said the proposal would move the residences of Amsterdam Republican Committee Chairman and 1st Ward Supervisor Vito “Butch” Greco and Barone into separate districts. She said that would mean Barone and Greco would not have to face each other in the primary.

“Whether this was an intentional act or a coincidental occurrence after a good-faith attempt to correct a perceived problem, the Board of Supervisors should endeavor to show the residents of this county that its actions are non-political,” Schumann-McGhee said.

“I never asked anyone to alter the maps,” Barone said. “The lies and innuendoes are getting ridiculous.”

Board of Supervisors Chairman and Root Supervisor John Thayer said he was sure no rigging of the districts occurred.

Supervisors said a date for the Committee of the Whole meeting will be scheduled.

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