Legislators hear hours of testimony from Nassau County residents.
Story by Stephen Bronner.
After hours of testimony from Nassau County residents on how Republicans’ redistricting plan would divide communities and dilute some people’s voice, legislators on Monday postponed making a final decision on the proposed map that would impact Long Beach.
The legislative session convened at 1:30 p.m., but the public hearing for redistricting, which most attendees had come to discuss, didn’t begin until 4 p.m.
“The public has asked to be heard and we should have time to digest and assess the testimony,” Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves, R-East Meadow said.Both Democrats and a non-partisan group have called the GOP-proposed map an obvious attempt to gerrymander the county and hand Republicans most districts for the next 10 years. They say the proposal would move about 350,000 residents out of the current districts. Republicans rebuff those claims, and say their map creates districts within the allowed population deviations.
The proposed map would dramatically alter the areas that Legis. Denise Ford, R-Long Beach, covers. Presently, Ford’s 4th District covers the entire barrier island, as well as parts of Island Park and Oceanside. The GOP plan would expend the district eastward to south Massapequa.
According to Frank Moroney, a top Republican majority aide and former chairman of the advisory board on redistricting, the map meets all “constitutional, Voting Rights Act and other legal standards of traditional districting.”
Many Bellmore and Merrick residents came out in support of their legislator, Dave Denenberg, since the GOP redistricting plan had his district being merged with Joseph Scannell’s in Baldwin. However, that part of the GOP redistricting plan has since been scrapped after objections were raised by Nassau County Legis. Denise Ford, R-Long Beach, Newsday reported
Other residents railed on the proposed map for splitting Roslyn and Five Towns, while many came out to say that the map would dilute the voice of minorities.
Nancy Rosenthal, president of League of Women Voters of Nassau County, said during her testimony that she’s asked Republicans to be open and fair during the redistricting process. She added that if Democrats had proposed a map in their favor, she would also oppose it.
“You should not be picking your voters,” she said. “Let the people of Nassau County choose their representatives every Election Day for the next 10 years.”
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