Views mixed on what new map for Congress does to Cortland


For the first time in decades, Cortland County will be split between two Congressional districts when voters go to the polls in November.

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law a bill creating new Congressional district maps. The state’s first attempt to re-draw the lines following the 2020 Census was ruled gerrymandering, and the second – used in the 2022 elections – was ruled temporary.

The new map, which splits Cortland between the 19th and 22nd districts, brings mixed reviews from Cortland’s political leaders.

“The county being bifurcated is not good for the county with its representation,” said Cortland County Democratic Committee Chair Tim Perfetti.

“I do think it’s a benefit,” said Cortland County Republican Committee Chair Connie White, adding the representatives, now both Republican, can work together.

However, Democrats reversed proposed changes from the state’s bipartisan redistricting commission that would have helped incumbent Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-Red Hook) retain his district, which includes Cortland, instead drawing lines that could make the race there more competitive.

The changes make re-election even harder for Rep. Brandon Williams (R-Sennett) whose district would now include northern Cortland County.

The southern part of the county will remain in District 19, which Molinaro now represents. It includes: Virgil, Harford, Lapeer, Marathon, Solon, Taylor, Freetown, Willet and all of Tompkins County.

The northern part of the county will become part of District 22, represented by Rep. Brandon Williams (R-Sennett). It includes: the city, Cortlandville, Homer, Scott, Preble, Truxton, Cuyler, Moravia, Summerhill and Locke.

“In this case, Marc Molinaro had the whole county – I know he’s not going to forget the city, because now Marc has the south end of Cortland County,” White said. “All the people he’s met and his excitement about who we are and what we do – I’m sure he’ll put in a good word if Brandon isn’t quite sure about something.”

If they are re-elected. Either way, Perfetti said: “It potentially dilutes our representation.”

The Cortland County municipalities in District 19 had 7,892 voting-age adults in 2020, Census data show. The county’s communities in District 22 had 29,958 voting-age adults.

A New York Congressional district typically had about 512,000 to 600,000 registered voters in 2023, state Elections Board data show.

Perfetti said while he thinks the Democrats have a good shot at taking those seats, it’ll come down to who puts in the work to connect with voters. However, White said she thinks the Republicans will keep their seats.

“I think for New York (District) 22, they certainly created what appears to be a super-blue district,” Perfetti said. “But again, whoever wins the primary there has to go out and do the work to win the general. I think for the 19th, where Josh Riley had a great showing two years ago and came up a little bit short, will be a little harder this time.”

“I think it’s (the two districts) great for us,” White said. “There are two Republican incumbents that are going to speak to the folks and ask them to return them to the Congress … I don’t think they (the Democrats) can outdo us with boots on the ground and just the quality of our candidates.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.