Written by Ronald Scaglia, firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 11 January 2013 00:00
It’s only a theoretical possibility, but if a Republican drawn map for new legislative districts is adopted, Democratic incumbents Delia DeRiggi-Whitton and Judy Jacobs could face each other in a Democratic primary this year. The proposed map would place both DeRiggi-Whitton and Jacobs in the same district.
“I have never seen anything like this,” commented Jacobs, about the proposed GOP plan. “Everyone knows that redistricting is always political. However, there is a way to do it that makes sense and there is a way to do it that is a blatant misuse.”
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.
Legislative districts are looked at by the Nassau County Legislature every 10 years in response to the national census. A bi-partisan commission has been created consisting of five members appointed by Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt prior to his death in October and five members appointed by Kevan Abrahams, the leader of the Democratic minority in the legislature. County Executive Ed Mangano appointed the chairperson, which is a non-voting position. The Republican appointees and the Democratic appointees have drawn separate maps both of which are available for viewing on Nassau County’s website. The legislature has until early March to accept either of these maps, modify them, or draw a completely different map. Because Republicans hold the majority in the legislature, it is the GOP map that is the focus of attention.
Under the GOP proposal, both Jacobs and DeRiggi-Whitton reside in the same district. It would be the 16th Legislative District and would encompass the western part of Glen Cove, Sea Cliff, and extend south and west to include Syosset and Plainview. The northeastern part of the county would become the 12th Legislative District and would include Oyster Bay, East Norwich, the eastern part of Glen Cove, Glen Head and parts of Muttontown and Woodbury. Currently, DeRiggi-Whitton represents the 18th District which includes Glen Cove, Sea Cliff, Bayville, Locust Valley, Brookville, Glen Head, Greenvale and Jericho. Jacobs is the legislator from the 16th Legislative District, which is comprised of the communities of Bethpage, Cove Neck, East Norwich, Jericho, Laurel Hollow, Muttontown, Oyster Bay, Oyster Bay Cove, Plainview, Syosset, and Woodbury.
Jacobs said that the GOP creates districts that are noncontiguous. She stated that under the proposal, she could not travel to Glen Cove without going through another legislative district. The former Presiding Officer added that she loves Glen Cove and is quite familiar with it, but the issue is not herself or DeRiggi-Whitton but what will happen during the next 10 years throughout the county. She believes that the purpose of the legislature is to create a local governmental representative and the GOP proposed districts do not do that.
“It’s important to have a legislator who knows the area backwards and forwards,” she said adding that the importance of this was emphasized in the aftermath of SuperStorm Sandy when legislators acted on their constituents’ behalf and came to their aid with issues such as contacting LIPA for updates on power restoration. “There’s no way that could be minimized.”
At the moment, the maps are just proposals that have not been accepted. DeRiggi-Whitton said she believed the process was still ongoing and the actual final map could be different. DeRiggi-Whitton told Anton Community Newspapers, “I am hopeful that this week, starting with [last week’s] public hearing, the commissioners will be able to work together to address some of the priorities that various communities and groups are providing about creating districts that work for them.”
Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves said that the process is not finalized, so the possibility remains that DeRiggi-Whitton and Jacobs could still be in separate legislative districts. 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.”