The Town of Hempstead Board voted unanimously on Feb. 19 to hire a private company, Skyline Demographic Consultants Inc., to provide the town with demographic information about its residents, which town officials plan to use to redraw geographic lines for its six electoral districts.
The Town of Hempstead comprises six districts, known as councilmatic districts, which each elects one representative to the Town Board. The current board is made up of five Republicans and one Democrat, Dorothy Goosby. Town Supervisor Kate Murray, a Republican, also has a vote on the board.
Goosby and two of the Republican board members, Angie Cullin and Edward Ambrosino, were absent from Tuesday’s vote.
Skyline provided similar demographic consulting services to the Nassau County Temporary Districting Advisory Commission in 2011 as it revised district maps for the Nassau County Legislature, where the Republican Party is also in the majority. The town is required by law to redraw its districts once every 10 years to reflect demographic changes during that time.
Some at Tuesday’s board meeting, including Bob Young of Merrick, first deputy leader of the Hempstead Town Democratic Committee, raised questions about the town’s $5,000 contract with Skyline and concerns about the transparency and fairness of the town’s redistricting process.
“Will the consultants run public hearings before the maps are developed?” Young asked. “Will they hold at least one hearing in each of the six council districts? Will any hearings be at a time when working men and women can attend to express their concerns without having to take personal time off from work? Will the [board] hold hearings both before map proposals are developed and before the [board] votes on the map?”
Town Supervisor Kate Murray said that the town would hold a public hearing on redistricting. A hearing date, she said, is yet to be determined, adding that town officials have not decided whether there would be more than one hearing.