January 10, 2013 | 2977 views
A chance for bipartisanship lost
Last year, Nassau County created the Temporary Districting Advisory Commission to draft new legislative maps for the next decade. And its members did exactly what anyone who follows Nassau County politics thought they would — the Republicans submitted one proposal and the Democrats submitted another.
Not surprisingly, the two proposals were vastly different.
The commission was made up of five Republicans, five Democrats and a non-voting chairman appointed by County Executive Ed Mangano. It held several public hearings around the county, with dozens of residents offering testimony.
It’s unfortunate that this chance for bipartisanship was lost. We were hoping that the members of the commission would work together and draft a unified proposal that best serves county residents going forward. They didn’t, and it’s just another example of how county politics work: Party comes first and the people come second.
Redrawing the boundaries of the county’s 19 legislative districts is mandated every 10 years after census data is released to ensure equal representation. The new maps are being drawn based on 2010 data, to balance out the size of the districts.
Redistricting is an important function of our democracy, helping to ensure the basic principle of one person, one vote. It’s not something that should be done simply to protect those already in power.
Now, any decision on the maps will be in the hands of the Legislature, another body that struggles with a partisan divide. We hope legislators will be able to accomplish what the commission didn’t and put together a map that serves the people. They have until March 5 to do so.
The Republican plan was interesting, to say the least. It drastically changed the look of the legislative districts and created some puzzling combinations — one district that stretches from West Hempstead to Bethpage, another that contains part of Massapequa and part of Lawrence. The shapes of some of the districts are downright head-scratching.
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