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Monday, October 20, 2014
Town Board OK’s redistricting plan
By VIKAS GIRDHAR
Vikas Girdhar/Herald
Councilman Anthony Santino moderated the hearing on redistricting and addressed concerns of angry residents on April 9.

The Hempstead Town Board members present at Town Hall on April 9 voted 5-1 in favor of a new redistricting map, which drew the ire of some residents there for the vote.

The one dissenting vote on the plan was Councilman James Darcy’s, whose district lost part of the Five Towns area.

Town Supervisor Kate Murray was absent from the hearing. Councilman Anthony Santino moderated instead. Santino said Murray was at home and under the weather.

The approved map is made up of six districts “of virtually equal population,” Michael Deery, communications director for the Town of Hempstead, told the Herald. Deery said that Town Attorney Joseph Ra oversaw the redistricting work and made sure that it conformed to state and federal laws. He also said that bipartisan support on the town board helped protect minority voters’ voices.

Residents took turns expressing their concerns and raising questions to the board about the map, which sets voting districts for the next election and all others until after a new census is conducted in 2020. Many residents’ questions and comments expressed accusations of gerrymandering — reshaping districts for political gain — on the part of Republican town officials and what they described as too little attention paid to demographic shifts in minority populations.

Uniondale residents in particular were upset that parts of their area were being referred to as East Garden City.

Steve Anchin, the Hewlett Democratic zone leader, said he believes that town officials have created the new map for their own interests and without regard for the recent census.

“When redistricting is based on political goals and gerrymandered to give one party an advantage, it is to the detriment of citizens,” Anchin said. “It should be nonpartisan and there should be a nonpartisan commission for districts to comply with the population numbers from the new

census.”

Santino, who represents the Fourth District, said that the new map is based on equalizing population and follows specific guidelines.

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