A Nassau County Legislature divided among party lines approved new legislative lines that opponents say will dilute minorities’ voting power and hand elections to the Republicans for the next 10 years.
Republicans say that their map doesn’t stray too far from the allowed population deviations and follows the letter of the law.
“From the very beginning, changes were made to this map,” Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves, R-East Meadow, said before casting her yes vote. “It follows the law, and that makes me happy.”
Last minute changes were made to the map to place Legis. Dave Denenberg’s home back into his district and add some areas back to District 2. Denenberg's 19th district includes the southern area of Wantagh. While Democrats said they appreciated that gesture, they still could not support the map.
One change that some Seaford residents will see in the new map involves the placing of Michael Venditto, R-Massapequa and Joseph Belesi, R-Farmingdale, into the same district. Belesi, whose 14th district currently covers the area of Seaford north of Jerusalem Avenue, has said he is considering not seeking re-election this fall.
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Many residents who spoke at the hearings expressed anger over the dividing of some communities, including Roslyn, Rockville Centre, Merrick, Hempstead and the Five Towns.
Legis. Denise Ford, D-Long Beach, who apparently pressured Republicans to make the last minute changes, said that legislators would continue to work together even with the new map.
“Not one of us serves in a vacuum,” she said. “Those of us that share communities do work together. Communities have been split apart before.”
Legis. Howard Kopel, R-Lawrence, “reluctantly” voted for the map, which divides his area of the Five Towns but puts Oceanside back together.
“I don’t believe the Five Towns will fall apart,” he said. “I feel bad that the people I represent will be in another district.”
Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams urged people to petition County Executive Edward Mangano to veto the map, which is unlikely. It’s expected that the fate of redistricting will end in court, much like it did in 2011.