Statement from Dustin M. Czarny
Onondaga County Elections Commissioner (D) and member of the Onondaga County Re-Apportionment Committee
Date: October 16, 2021
Subject: Release of census data and proposed hearing during Early Voting Hours and unusual interference by the County Executive in our process.
Late Friday evening I much of the Census Data I have asked for regarding the work needed to be done by the Re-Apportionment committee to draw new Census lines. I will begin the work of analyzing this data ahead of the public meetings scheduled this week and next. In addition to the data, I received a notice of public hearings in addition to the previously released hearings on October 22nd. The hearing notice can be found here:
I have several concerns about the new list of hearing dates. The official hearing notice contains three dates. We were expecting two dates on Thursday October 29th and Friday October 30th as outlined in the October 13th meeting: (http://ongov.net/legislature/documents/10.13.21ReapportionmentCommissionMinutes.pdf) However the official hearing notice contains a third date for Wednesday October 28th.
While I applaud the addition of evening hearing dates, all three dates are scheduled during Early Voting hours where the Election Commissioners are duty bound to monitor voting in Onondaga County. Mr. Hulslander’s insistence on forging ahead with public hearings in such a compact schedule is not only gravely irresponsible for the mission of the Reapportionment commission it is now making the Elections Commissioners, one third of the committee, choose between our duties to the voters of Onondaga County and our Chartered roles on the Reapportionment commission.
These Early Voting hours were established by statute in May of 2021 and easily obtainable on our website: http://www.ongov.net/elections/early-voting.html. It is hard to fathom a reason for our commission to move with such speed. Furthermore, the lack of input from commission members on the committee meeting dates and schedule raises the question of whether this is gross incompetence or designed to limit the participation of the chartered members of the commission. It is a point I will continue to raise as Commission members should be allowed to vote and set this schedule. His insistence he has total authority and control is legally questionable and morally reprehensible in leading a government body.
It does seem Mr. Hulslander does talk to one person, County Executive Ryan McMahon. In the Syracuse.com article titled “In surprising turn, GOP leader calls current Onondaga County district boundaries a mistake” (https://www.syracuse.com/politics/2021/10/in-surprising-turn-gop-leader-calls-current-onondaga-county-district-boundaries-a-mistake.html) Mr. McMahon is quoted several times indicating he has had conversations with the commission.
Since he was not in the room on October 13th,I can only assume he means conversations with Chairman Hulslander. “After looking at the schedule, McMahon insisted the commission hold at least one hearing in the city during the evening hours.” This resulted in the additional meeting being added to the schedule. What role Mr. McMahon has in making this decision for the committee without any notice being given to it is questionable. In another instance McMahon told Syracuse.com “The commission has told the county executive’s office to expect maps to be presented to the legislature Nov. 3 and to ask for a vote of the legislature Nov. 12.” This is very alarming. For instance, there is no scheduled meeting of the Onondaga County Legislature on November 12th. Nor did we set a final date for voting on the maps, though a committee meeting was set for November 3rd at 1pm. Mr. Hulslander spoke for the committee once again without notifying us.
I understand that Mr. Hulslander was County Executive Ryan’s handpicked member of this committee and enjoys a close relationship with the County executive serving as his campaign attorney in 2019, however it is inappropriate to set schedules on the insistence of the County Executive without first getting consent of the Reapportionment committee. I plan to bring up these issues at the Tuesday October 19,2021 Reapportionment Committee meeting at 10am in the County Legislature chambers. I hope to get the committee to resolve these matters so our work can be accomplished in an organized and fair manner.