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Monday, July 28, 2014
Republican redistricting plans heads to Legislature
Susan Grieco/Herald
Michael Turi of Woodmere addressed the Means Committee about redistricting.

A Republican-led plan to redraw Nassau County’s 19 legislative districts will now head to the full Legislature, after the Rules Committee approved the proposal Monday afternoon in a 4-3 vote along party lines.

The Five Towns, which was described as a “community of interest,” would be split into four districts under the plan.

County Legislator Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence), who represents the 7th District which includes the Five Towns, said that he would like to have as much of the district as possible stay together.

“I would like to keep as much of the area I now represent the way it is,” he said. “But legally there have to be some changes. It’s not a comfortable process, but we are still talking.”

A Temporary Districting Advisory Commission, which was formed last year, as required by the county charter, failed to provide the Legislature with a recommended plan. Instead, the Republican and Democratic members of the commission each crafted their own map, neither of which garnered enough votes to move forward.

That left the creation of a map up to the Legislature. Presiding officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) said that the plan presented on Monday was crafted with input from the Legislative Republican majority, its staff and Republican members of the commission.

The public comment period lasted four hours, as speaker after speaker blasted the latest proposal, which drastically alters existing districts. “Fundamental to redistricting is having districts that are compact, contiguous and reflect communities of interest,” said Jane Thomas, co-president of the Nassau County League of Women Voters, citing several examples of communities all over Nassau County that were being split, including Hempstead village and Roslyn. She also pointed out a district that stretches from Garden City to Bethpage.

Mimi Pierre-Johnson, of Elmont, said that putting the plan forward represented a shameful day for the county. “This map is a snow job bigger than the snow we had on Friday,” she said. “There’s no secret that this is a sham.

“We elect you to represent us,” Pierre-Johnson told the Legislators. “We do not want you to select those you think can keep your careers.”

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