After a New York State Supreme Court judge issued a temporary restraining order last week that prevents Nassau Republicans from implementing proposed redistricting, GOP legislators on Monday introduced amendments to the planned map and then tabled it.
Democratic legislators briefly walked out of the legislature and refused to participate in the vote to table the proposed redistricting, saying that no one in the party had seen the amendments.
“We’re going to table the item until the legal ramifications are studied by the county attorney,” Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt, R-Massapequa, said. He added that after sifting through the “Democratic show” at last week’s public hearing on redistricting, about 100 pages of amendments were written up.
The adjustments undo some of the changes to the county’s legislative lines that had some speakers up in arms at last week's meeting. Some of the changes include restoring portions of East Meadow to Legislator Norma Gonsalves’ district, shifting parts of the Five Towns — including all of Cedarhurst back to District 7. Additionally, all of Bellmore and a portion of Merrick would be included in District 5.
Additionally, under the original proposal, all of Wantagh would be included in the 5th Legislative District, while Seaford would be added to Republican Denise Ford’s district. Currently part of 6th District, Malverne is represented by Republican Francis Becker but would be moved to the 7th Legislative District, where Republican Howard J. Kopel serves as legislator.
Schmitt once again found himself defending the redistricting process, saying the County Charter requires the legislature to act within six months of the release of census data, and that population shifts have created unacceptable deviations among the districts.
Echoing a point many minority speakers made at last week’s hearing, Hempstead civil rights attorney Frederick Brewington alleged the proposed map dilutes the minority vote and makes it less likely for their choice of candidate to win elected office.
“What was proposed was an atrocity. What was proposed was not redistricting, but radical redistricting,” said Brewington, who presented the legislature with his own “alternative plan.” “It made a mockery of the Voting Rights Act. All of the people I’ve spoken to do not agree with the process and ramming it down people’s throats.”
The redistricting fight lands back in court on May 26.