Blank Slate Media to hold forum on redistricting in Nassau County

Blank Slate Media to hold forum on redistricting in Nassau County
Blank Slate Media will host a virtual forum on redistricting in Nassau county on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.

Blank Slate Media will hold a virtual town hall on the topic of redistricting in Nassau County after data from the U.S. census released last month showed an increase of various populations over the past decade.

The forum will be hosted and moderated by Blank Slate Media’s publisher and editor, Steven Blank, on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. The forum will feature Nassau County League of Women Voters Vice President Michele C. Lamberti and Nassau County Legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport).

Along with serving as vice president for the county’s League of Women Voters, Lamberti, a Port Washington resident, has the same position for the Port Washington-Manhasset’s branch of the organization.

Lamberti also serves as the redistricting unity coordinator for LatinoJustice PRLDEF. A former lawyer in New York City, she had a role at her firm’s women’s committee and a seat on the advisory board for New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.

After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1997, Lamberti attended Fordham Law School three years later, graduating in 2003. Currently, Lamberti serves as chair emerita of Women of Dartmouth and is an alumni councilor for the college.

Abrahams was elected to the Legislature in 2002 to represent the 1st District, which encompasses Freeport, Uniondale and Roosevelt, along with parts of East Meadow, Hempstead and South Hempstead. Abrahams has been an advocate of funding social services and programs for Nassau’s youth, senior citizens and community health groups.

He has also been a proponent of increasing opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses and aided in the county’s creation of an Independent Office of the Inspector General, which aims to provide more oversight to the county’s procurement process.

Last August, Abrahams and other members of the minority caucus proposed changes to legislative districts throughout the county with the creation of a redistricting commission.

The proposed nine-member commission would be tasked with reordering the 19 districts of the County Legislature to make them geographically compact and more contiguous.  According to the proposal, three members of the commission would be picked by the leader of the Legislature’s majority, three would be chosen by the minority leader and three would be agreed upon by both sides.

As of now, redistricting is delegated to an 11-member board made up of five voting members from each party, with the last member being a nonvoting chairperson picked by the county executive. Republicans currently hold an 11-8 majority in the County Legislature.

The committee, Abrahams said last year, would preserve the boundaries of cities, towns and incorporated villages.

“The creation of an independent redistricting commission will liberate Nassau County voters from decades of election districts which exist primarily to advance the political interests of entrenched machine politicians over the interests of the people,” Abrahams said.

Abrahams said the current map ensured that around 95 percent of incumbent politicians have been re-elected since 1995.

According to census data, Long Island’s population grew 3.1% from 2010 to 2020, and diversity increased, with the minority population rising by 8.9%.

In Nassau County, the Census Bureau found a 4.2% increase in population to 1,395,774 in reporting what it called “redistricting data.” The population in the Town of North Hempstead reached 237,639, a rise of more than 5%. Long Island’s population was 2,921,694.

This census marks the first to take place after the Supreme Court’s decision in a partisan gerrymandering case a few years ago.

In Rucho v. Common Cause (2019), the majority opinion said that allegations of partisan gerrymandering could not be reviewed in federal courts despite it being “incompatible with democratic principles.” Suits could still be filed at the state level. The decision could exacerbate an already polarized political process that will shape legislative districts for the next 10 years.

The virtual event will begin at 7 p.m. on Zoom. Those interested in viewing the forum can register for free online here: ​​

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