In a 3-2 decision last Thursday, New York State Appellate Division judges upheld new boundaries drawn by Nassau Republican lawmakers for the county’s 19 legislative districts. If the state Court of Appeals rules in favor of the Republican plan on Aug. 24, the GOP’s legislative map will reshape a number of districts, including those covering the Five Towns, Elmont, Baldwin and Merrick-Bellmore.
The Appellate Division ruling angered Legislator David Denenberg, a Democrat from Merrick, who would be forced to run in a primary against Legislator Joseph Scanell, a Democrat from Baldwin, under the Republican redistricting plan. The GOP map would merge the 5th District, represented by Scannell, and the 19th District, represented by Denenberg, and move the 19th District to southwest Nassau, on the border with Queens.
But Denenberg, who contends that the merger of the two districts is politically motivated, said he is uncertain whether he would be able to run in a primary. He said he collected 1,400 petition signatures to get on the ballot in the 19th District this November. A thousand of those signatures, he said, were collected in what would become the new 5th District. He, though, is unsure whether the signatures would count in the 5th, as they were originally collected for the 19th. The courts, he said, would have to determine whether his signatures were valid, enabling him to run in a primary against Scannell.
Denenberg said he hopes the Court of Appeals will rule against implementing the GOP redistricting plan and for keeping the current legislative lines until a bipartisan redistricting commission is established in 2012, as required by Section 113 of the county charter. The commission will be responsible for reviewing and redrawing district lines.
In April, the Legislature’s majority leader, Peter Schmitt, requested that County Attorney John Ciampoli immediately submit a new legislative map because the 2010 census showed significant population changes within districts across the county. Schmitt said the new GOP map would be examined and potentially revised by a bipartisan commission next year.