Mineola, GOP councilmembers file suit over North Hempstead redistricting

Mineola, GOP councilmembers file suit over North Hempstead redistricting
Mineola Mayor Paul Pereira speaks against the town's redistricting proposals in June. (Photo by Brandon Duffy)

Paul Pereira, the mayor of Mineola, and North Hempstead Republicans David Adhami and Dennis Walsh have filed a federal complaint against the Town of North Hempstead to invalidate the newly confirmed redistricting maps as unconstitutional.

“The redistricting engaged in by the Democratic-controlled Town of North Hempstead constituted a complete railroading of the process in the favor of one side that prevented the meaningful participation by Republicans or any other parties,” the suit, filed Oct. 14 in the Eastern District Court of New York, said. 

The Village of Mineola, Pereira, Adhami, Walsh and resident James McHugh, a New Hyde Park resident appointed to the town’s nonpartisan redistricting commission by Adhami that was critical of the redistricting process, are named as plaintiffs. They are represented by Timothy Hill of Messina Perillo & Hill LLP. 

In a June party-line vote, the North Hempstead Town Board approved a redistricting proposal that will reshape the town’s six councilmanic districts for the next 10 years during a heated nearly five-hour meeting. 

The vote came after the four North Hempstead Democrats rejected a request by Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena, who was elected as a Republican, to table the proposal.

“Looking at the four maps it’s easy to make a compelling argument that it was an attempt to preserve political power for the next decade through gerrymandering,” DeSena said during the June meeting.

The new maps will officially take effect on Jan. 1, 2024. 

The revised map includes splitting the Village of Mineola into two districts, the creation of an Asian plurality district and switching the numbers of District 4, now represented by Town Councilperson Veronica Lurvey, a Democrat, with District 5, now represented by Town Councilman David Adhami, a Republican.

The complaint said the constitutional guarantee of voter equity, the “one person, one vote” concept was violated as a result of redistricting. 

By swapping Adhami and Lurvey’s districts, Adhami would run for re-election in two years after being elected on 2021 and Lurvey would serve until 2026 after last being elected in 2020, the complaint said. 

“This has been accomplished by the completely unnecessary decision to switch district numbers to effectively extend the term of office of one representative while curtailing the term of another — all as a naked partisan power grab that seeks to reverse the will of the people and reverse the effect of an election that already took place,” the complaint said. 

Town spokesperson Gordon Tepper said they have not yet received the complaint and that all six council members have four-year terms that are not being extended or shortened based on the new maps.

During public comment in June when the maps were voted on, McHugh said the decision to number districts one to six was made to stagger election terms between Districts 2, 4 and 6 and Districts, 1 3 and 5 

He said in 2003 everyone on the Town Board ran for the first election of the first set of districts and has remained since.

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