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.
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 created 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 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 would drastically alter existing districts. Many residents were upset that “communities of interest” were being divided, such as the Five Towns, which would be split into four 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.”
Peter Rosenthal, of the League of Women Voters, endorsed a nonpartisan map that was created by the Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition, a joint venture involving several civic engagement groups. Rosenthal said that the coalition’s map takes into account the interests of the people, not the politicians.