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Thursday, April 17, 2014
County Legislator decries redistricting map

Nassau County Legislator Carrie Solages, of Elmont, confirmed to residents last week that, beginning next January, he will no longer represent certain portions of the current 3rd District, which has been redrawn on a map of legislative districts approved by the County Legislature and County Executive Edward Mangano.

Solages, who is serving his first term, has been openly critical of the new map, which was approved on March 5, expressing discontent with the changes it will bring about in his constituency.

The 3rd District, which now comprises Elmont, Franklin Square, North Valley Stream, Bellerose Terrace, South Floral Park and portions of Valley Stream and West Hempstead, will be reshaped by the exclusion of a portion of Elmont and the addition of Inwood. The new map shows a portion of Elmont cut off from North Valley Stream and redrawn as part of Garden City. Inwood is made up mostly of minorities, while the section of Elmont Solages no longer represents is largely white, and Solages has said that adding minority-heavy areas to white-majority towns dilutes the voting power of the minorities and does not give them an opportunity to identify with other diverse areas.

“The improper use of redistricting is gerrymandering,” Solages said. “In this case, the scheme has two primary objectives: to distort election district lines to ensure a continued one-political-party majority in the Legislature, and to break up cohesive communities so that local community efforts are frustrated.”

George Rand, of Franklin Square, a retired engineering manager, told the Herald that he was impressed by Solages even before he ran for the Legislature, and added that it is a shame he was only able to serve some of his constituents for such a short time.

“It’s such an unpleasant situation, and many people seem unhappy with it,” Rand said. “It’s been so politically charged. I feel that it’s extremely unfortunate that [Solages] was not able to serve for longer. This maneuvering of districts just gives more power to ruling Republicans.”

Solages, a lifelong resident of Elmont, described the reshaping of districts in the approved map as a “recent example of injustice,” and vowed to stay involved and address residents’ concerns. He said that the process of redistricting creates rifts and assigns leaders rather than giving residents an opportunity to elect them.

“Other people made a decision for you regarding who should be your elected official, rather than you making that decision,” Solages said. “You have a right to choose your leaders, and not the other way around.”

He said he hopes the new legislator for the constituents he will no longer represent — who will be determined in November’s elections — can build on the efforts he has made thus far. He promised to continue to address issues important to them.

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