One vote scuttles GOP plan to remove county legislator from 19th District


Republicans in the Nassau County Legislature modified their proposed redistricting map yesterday, backing off a plan to place a sliver of Merrick, including the home of Democratic Legislator Dave Denenberg, into the neighboring district of Legislator Joseph Scannell, a Democrat from Baldwin. The plan would have removed one of the two incumbents from the Legislature.

Denenberg currently represents the 19th District, which encompasses Merrick south of Camp Avenue. Scannell represents the 5th District, which is west of the 19th District.

The map reversal came only a day after a legislative meeting to discuss the Republicans’ proposed map, at which dozens of residents spoke out against it, including several Denenberg constituents. The legislator, they noted, has served the 19th District for 14 years.

“It was really very humbling and gratifying for so many people to come and even wait hours to speak out for me,” Denenberg said. “Another 100 or so people wrote emails. I’m very thankful for people speaking up.”

Republicans now hold a one-seat majority in the Nassau Legislature, where they outnumber Democrats 10-9. The GOP redistricting plan required only a simple majority to pass, but Denise Ford, a Long Beach Democrat who caucuses with the Republicans, bucked the plan to remove Denenberg from his current district, according to an aide in Denenberg’s office.

“We are pleased that [the change] happened; it’s great for the residents of the 19th District,” said Bob Young, a Merrick resident and first deputy leader of the Hempstead Town Democratic Committee. “Dave is a hardworking legislator; it’s his people and the people need him … It was wrong to take him away from his district and residents.”

Denenberg called the map reversal “bittersweet,” because he will be restored to his current district, but parts of Merrick only blocks from his home will still be split off into Scannell’s district.

“I’m happy I’m being put back in Merrick, but I’m not satisfied that Merrick is being kept whole,” Denenberg said. “They literally put back my block and two other blocks. I’d rather Merrick be kept together.”

The legislator said that the removal of a section of Merrick that lies to the west of Merrick Avenue, between Sunrise Highway and Merrick Road, from the current 19th District “doesn’t make any sense, except from a partisan political perspective.”