Written by Ronald Scaglia, firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 11 January 2013 00:00
Hicksville might be torn in two. The hamlet will be divided between two legislative districts under a redistricting proposal from the Republican appointees to Nassau County’s Temporary Districting Advisory Committee. And with the GOP holding a majority of the county legislature, this proposal could become law.
“When you’re dividing communities, there’s less of a voice,” said Bonnie Garone, a commission member appointed by Democrats.
The issue of redistricting county legislative districts has been a controversial political issue going back to the 2011 elections, when Democrats went to court to stop Republicans from adopting lines drawn by the GOP.
Under the plan, Hicksville, currently represented by Rose Walker, would be split with its northern part going into a district that runs west to east that would also include Garden City and Bethpage. The southern part of Hicksville would be in a district with North Massapequa and Plainedge, as well as parts of Old Bethpage and Farmingdale.
“At this point the commission has completed their job, and I will be reviewing all the testimony from the commission as well as following the legal obligations expressed in our charter,” said Walker. “A map will be voted on by March 5.”
Democrats have strongly criticized the plan as a political maneuver. Under the GOP plan, three incumbent Democratic legislators, Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams, Joseph Scannell and David Denenberg, would be placed into one district.
“This, to me, is such an obvious power grab by the party in power that it’s disturbing,” said Legislator Judy Jacobs, who is the former presiding officer.
However, Francis Moroney, chairperson of the commission, defended the map. Moroney charged that when Democrats controlled the legislature in 2003, public hearings were not held and that this time, Republicans made the process “as open as it ever was.” He further stated that new lines needed to be drawn to reflect the changes that have taken place in Nassau County during the past two decades.
“[The commission] produced a map that meets all the legal standards,” he commented.
The commission could not come to an agreement, so now the Legislature will decide on new district lines, something that must be done by March 5. Currently, Republicans control the legislature by a razor thin margin of 10-9.
Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves said that the process is not finalized. In a statement she said, “We will do our due diligence to explore all factors involved with redistricting to meet the charter mandated deadline of March 5.”