Monroe County Legislature approves new voting map that includes six majority-Black districts

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Monroe County Legislature approved a new voting district map on Thursday night after months of debate. The legislature approved the map with 27 ‘yes’ and two ‘no’.

Supporters say the map will maximize opportunities for people of color when it comes to electing county legislators, by including six majority-Black districts.

For the last several months, several versions of this map were brought to the table and then reconfigured. We heard from multiple people at the Thursday public hearing, followed by legislators who explained their votes.

The map for Monroe County Legislature

Those who voted yes had emotion-provoking statements on why this map needed to pass. We also heard from one of the two lawmakers who voted no.

“My grandmother told me about stories passed down to her about men by the name of Master Jones and Master John,” said Rev. Myra Brown of the Spiritus Christi Church. “I don’t know what the court masters name would have been but to have my county Democrats attempt to send me and the coalition of Black plaintiffs to the master to decide Black voting rights would have been an insult to our humanity.”

The Monroe County legislature passed the bi-partisan compromise map after legislators and outside groups proposed several different versions.

“Somehow this map was created with a more political and less transparent process than the last one,” said Albert Blankley, a Democratic legislator. “The map we’re voting on tonight is an 11th hour deal, struck because three of the four parties at the negotiating table were uncomfortable working with an independent judicial arbiter for those reasons. I will remain steadfast in my decision to vote ‘no’.”

Democratic Legislator Mercedes Vazquez Simmons also voted ‘no’ with no comment on her decision.
This redistricting map has been a bitter battle over legislative boundaries and representation for voters of color.

County Executive Adam Bello, Legislature President Sabrina Lamar, and majority and minority leaders agreed to it last week, saying this is the fairest, most equitable map. That was after two lawsuits and weeks of meetings.

“This was no easy task, compromises had to be made along with hard choices about traditional boundaries,” Lamar said.

County Executive Bello released a statement praising the vote, saying this map is a positive change and it will create a better future for Monroe County.

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