New congressional district lines will go into effect next year, and they will have an effect on local representation.
All of Fulton and Hamilton counties will be in the 21st district, now represented by U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh. Owens' district currently includes all of Fulton County except for the cities of Gloversville and Johnstown. The two cities now are part of the district represented by U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam.
Next year, Tonko's 20th congressional district will include the eastern part of Montgomery County. The rest of Montgomery County will be part of the 19th district, now represented by U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook.
All three of the congressmen are running for re-election in November.
We have a challenge for the congressmen who end up representing the local districts: Get to know our area and spend time in it.
Owens, who has represented the rural towns of Fulton County for a couple years, says he has "some familiarity" with the county. If he wins re-election, we hope he visits each town, village and city in the county and gets to know the local leaders. We'd hope he would organize local forums so members of the public can see who he is and talk with him.
Congressmen should have a thorough understanding of the issues their constituents are concerned about. These lawmakers shouldn't be representatives from afar. They should be a part of the community, if only by being a frequent visitor, regardless of their political affiliation. They also should be accessible to the people.
Tonko has been a favorite of residents in Montgomery and Fulton counties. The fact he's from Amsterdam and shows his face at local events are big reasons. All congressmen representing our area should be visible and recognizable.