The Essex County Board of Supervisors
The Essex County Board of Supervisors has a new count when it comes to representative voting, with Jay moving into the coveted “top four.”
Board members voted to adopt the new voting policy at their May 7 regular board meeting, which will go into effect at the July regular meeting.
Under the representative voting system, each of the 18 Essex County town supervisors is assigned a number of votes based on their municipalities’ population, with a simple majority vote consisting of 2,921 votes split between the members.
The distribution of the cotes are changed every 10 years as new census figures are released.
North Elba continued to have the most number of votes, increasing from 481 to 520 votes. Ticonderoga, who has the second most votes, remained the same with 387. Moriah remained the third highest, adding four to total 355, while Jay moved passed Chesterfield, picking up 12 votes to total 202 as Chesterfield only added two votes to total 196.
The four highest municipalities are referred to as, “the big four” because they total 1,464 votes, three more than the 1,461 needed to win a simple majority vote. The other 14 towns total 1,457 votes.
During the April 30 Ways and Means Committee meeting, Essex Supervisor Sharon Boisen, the lone supervisor to vote against the reapportionment, said she felt there should be one vote only per supervisor.
“The reason I am bringing it up is because I consider when I am working out here that I am thinking of all 39,000 residents, and not just the 671 that currently live in Essex year round,” Boisen said. “That is what kind of concerns me.”
Essex is third out of the four smallest towns with 55 votes, joined by North Hudson (20), Newcomb (35) and Minerva (65).
Margaret Bartley, who lost 11 votes under the new system, said she understood Boisen’s point.
“Representing the Town of Elizabethtown which lost more people in the last census than any other town in Essex County, I can understand and appreciate that I would like to have one person, one vote, because my vote is getting smaller and smaller,” Bartley said.
County Manager Daniel Palmer said that a board of supervisors must vote under the weighted system.
“There was a Supreme Court ruling that said it had to be based upon a one for one vote so you have to do the calculations to make sure that whatever Tom (Scozzafava) represents in Moriah is a one for one vote based upon his voting power here on the board,” Palmer said. “That is where those calculations are driven from.”
“It is actually based upon the same formula as your Congressional districts, your Assembly and your Senate — based on population only they equal it out so you get to the one vote through the number of constituency,” Scozzafava said.
Scozzafava also said that while he understood the call from the smaller towns, there were plenty of chances to vote on issues before they make it to the full board.
“Everything has to go through the committee process and, as you know, it has been pretty well debated and voted on by the time it gets to full board,” Scozzafava said