JOHNSTOWN - A federal judicial decision will result in local congressional changes, with Gloversville and Johnstown being moved from the district now represented by U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, into the Adirondack district represented by U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh.
A three-judge federal panel Monday approved the new election-districts lines drawn March 6 by U.S. Magistrate Roanne Mann. The realignment is required to balance statewide district populations based on the 2010 Census.
The decision means congressional districts 19 and 20 will share Montgomery County. District 21 will include all of Fulton and Hamilton counties.
If re-elected in November, Owens, would represent the 21st district in January. He said today he has "some familiarity" with Fulton County, having served on a bank board here at one time, and he said personally knows several constituents in the cities.
His current congressional district includes all of Fulton County, except the cities and the town of Johnstown.
Owens said he's "not sure" if he will have an office in the county, but he'll decide next year, pending re-election.
If re-elected, Tonko would represent the 20th district, which would include only eastern part of Montgomery County, including Amsterdam and the towns of Mohawk, Glen, Florida and Charleston, along with Fonda, Fultonville and Fort Johnson.
U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, would represent the 19th district, which will include the western part of Montgomery County, including Palatine, St. Johnsville, Minden, Canajoharie, Root and their villages.
All three sitting congressmen are running for re-election. Republican Matt Doheny already announced he is again is seeking Owens' seat as he did in 2010.
Tonko said Tuesday he will miss representing Fulton County, saying it was "an honor and a privilege." He said he sees this area as a "tri-city model" involving his hometown of Amsterdam in Montgomery County, and Gloversville and Johnstown in Fulton County, but redistricting will break it up.
"It's certainly not what I would have liked," Tonko said. "You grow a fondness of the people you represent."
He said while he's losing Fulton County, it's "not the end of the story," as his representation continues with regional issues for this part of New York state, which he said desperately needs jobs.
Tonko described Owens as a "pragmatic and thoughtful" representatives, who will do well representing Fulton County.
"I've got a very strong relationship [with Owens]," Tonko said. "I will work with him as we continue."
"I'm glad Fulton County will remain whole," Fulton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael F. Gendron of Gloversville said today. "I think it's in the best interests of a small, rural county to have one congressman."
Johnstown Mayor Sarah Slingerland today described Tonko as "extremely helpful, bright and very smart and very cordial. She said he "made himself very available to the community."
Gloversville Mayor Dayton King, issued a prepared statement that mentioned both Tonko and Doheny.
"While I personally disagree with a lot of Congressman Tonko's political views, I have a lot of respect for him," King stated. "He listens to people and has been very active, attending many events in Gloversville while he has represented this area."
Before the new district lines were drawn, King endorsed Doheny. In his statement, he suggested Doheny could have a home at City Hall if he wins.
"With the [city] Water Department leaving City Hall in the upcoming year, I'd welcome Mr. Doheny to open a district office in that suite. It would be great for the citizens of the largest municipality in our county to have their federal representative here," he said.
He later said he likely would extend the same offer to Owens if he wins re-election. He said he hasn't offered Tonko office space in the city.
"I didn't think about it until this year," he said.
Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Chairman Shayne T. Walters of Charleston said earlier this month splitting the county in two is not in the county's best interest.
"This county is heavy with agriculture, both in the east and west," Walters said. "Splitting the county in two is not good for us. This is a county with more cows than people."
But Minden Supervisor Thomas Quackenbush, who led county supervisors in 2011 and would see his town move into Gibson's district, wasn't as critical.
"Tonko's been with us a long time, but I know Gibson as well," Quackenbush said earlier this month. "He's a good guy and we'd welcome him."
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.