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How to boost Upstate NY political clout? Bill gives each county a NY senator

A pair of Upstate New York lawmakers say they have come up with a better way to boost the region’s interests without splitting off into a separate state.

A bill introduced Wednesday in Albany would shift the balance of power between Upstate and Downstate interests by allowing each of New York’s 62 counties — no matter how small — to be represented by its own state senator.

New York apportions its Senate and Assembly districts based on population, giving New York City and downstate interests a built-in advantage over Upstate New York in Albany.

When Democrats gained majority control of the 63-seat New York Senate in November, only three members of the party represented Upstate New York. The other 24 senators north of Westchester County are Republicans.

State Sen. Joe Griffo, R-Rome and Assemblyman Mark Walczyk, R-Watertown, said their legislation would amend the New York Constitution to make sure power is shared along geographic lines.

Griffo, the Senate’s deputy minority leader, and Walczyk say their amendment would help give Upstate New York an equal voice in state government, boosting a region whose residents have long felt ignored.

“As the representatives of New York City quite naturally focus on the needs of their own constituents, many issues critical to the prosperity of Upstate New York have been routinely ignored over the past few years,” the lawmakers wrote in a bill memo.

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