Martins’ redistricting counterpart ‘schocked, not surprised’ at campaign launch

Martins’ redistricting counterpart ‘schocked, not surprised’ at campaign launch
Former state Sen. Jack Martins' counterpart on the state's redistricting commission said he was 'not surprised' that Martins launched his campaign for senate after not being able to find compromise drawing new lines. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

The former chairman of the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission said he was “shocked but not surprised” to see Jack Martins, the former vice chairman for the Republican redistricting committee announce his candidacy for state senate after trying to draw the district’s new lines.

David Imamura, a Democrat, wrote an opinion piece to City & State New York, saying that the state’s redistricting process has “failed spectacularly” for a variety of reasons, including the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission not being able to agree on lines.

“With five Democrats and five Republicans who had very different views on how districts should be drawn and, in particular, how various communities of interest should be respected in accordance with the constitutional criteria, it became clear that the commission would not reach an agreement,” Imamura wrote.

The Democrat said Martins, the former mayor of Mineola and state senator, was “clearly interested” in running for office following his previous political endeavors.

Imamura claimed Martins would travel back to Mineola during the “marathon negotiating sessions” and no progress on drawing new lines was made.

“Two months after the commission reached a stalemate, I was shocked but not surprised to see Jack announce his candidacy for New York State Senate in a district that he himself had been trying to draw mere weeks before,” Imamura said.

Martins, while on the commission, said he advocated that Nassau County not “have Assembly or Senate districts straddle or break the Queens-Nassau line and to keep minority communities whole on district maps in southern Nassau.”

In a statement to Blank Slate Media, Martins said he viewed Imamura’s claim of being “shocked” as “absurd.”

“Notwithstanding the Democrats’ now-rejected lines having been gerrymandered, I chose to run,” Martins said. “It is hard to understand how anyone could be “shocked” by a decision to run on lines drawn by others gerrymandered to make the run more difficult.”

Martins said he does not believe the commission “is doomed to fail,” but did so this year “due to the Chairman’s failure to lead and promote consensus building.”

Martins was endorsed by the Nassau County Republican Party in March after he launched his campaign to run against incumbent state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) to represent the 7th state Senate District.

Martins, an Old Westbury resident who previously represented the 7th District from 2011-2016, started off his introductory speech at the GOP’s Westbury headquarters by saying, “It’s great to be back” and addressed the questions he has received from others asking why he is choosing to run again.

“When I left the Senate six years ago, we had compromise, we had balance, the suburbs had a voice,” Martins said. “Nassau County had a voice because there were people who were willing to fight for Nassau County families and make sure the… quality of life we want for ourselves, for our families, is alive and well.”

Martins, who served as Mineola’s mayor from 2003-2010. During that time, Martins previously said, he restructured the village’s finances, debt and property tax assessment system, and improved government transparency by broadcasting meetings on TV and publishing information online.

In 2008, Martins ran an unsuccessful congressional campaign against former U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy before defeating incumbent 7th District Senator and Democrat Craig Johnson in 2010.

The race against Johnson was one that did not get resolved until early December due to Johnson demanding a recount of the votes, ultimately having his appeal denied by the state’s Court of Appeals.

After another failed attempt to get into Congress in 2016, losing to U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), Martins shifted his focus to becoming Nassau County’s new county executive, following former County Executive Edward Mangano being indicted on federal corruption charges.

Martins ultimately lost that race to Democrat Laura Curran, who served as county executive before being defeated by Republican Bruce Blakeman this past fall.

Sean Ross Collins-Sweeney, a spokesperson for Kaplan’s campaign, criticized Martins for his previous political affiliations and hopes to have a race that prioritizes the issues facing the 7th Senate District.

“During his time in the Senate, Jack Martins aligned himself with the most extreme elements of his party, refusing to protect a woman’s right to choose, voting against marriage equality, and defending his corrupt, criminal leader, Dean Skelos,” Collins-Sweeney said in a statement to Blank Slate Media.

Other Democrats previously criticized Martins for defending Skelos, the former state Senate majority leader from Rockville Centre who was convicted of federal corruption crimes in 2015.

Immediately following Skelos’ indictment, Martins said Skelos should be allowed to keep his leadership post. Skelos stepped down a week later. When Martins was running for county executive in 2017, he expressed some regret that Skelos was not removed from his leadership post sooner.

The 7th Senate district includes Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Williston Park, Mineola, Garden City Park, North Hills, Albertson, Old Westbury, East Hills, Roslyn, Roslyn Harbor, Roslyn Estates, Albertson, Searingtown, Lake Success, Manhasset, Munsey Park, Plandome, Plandome Heights, Plandome Manor, and the Great Neck and Port Washington peninsulas.

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