Hempstead residents slam redistricting proposal again at public hearing

Hempstead residents slam redistricting proposal again at public hearing
A proposal of the Town of Hempstead's six councilmanic districts. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Hempstead)

Hempstead residents renewed their criticism of the proposed redistricting map Tuesday night at town hall.

The public hearing, which lasted over two hours, featured calls to keep unincorporated areas, specifically Uniondale and Baldwin, within one district each. 

Pearl Jacobs, president of the Nostrand Garden Civic Association, said the current option to split Uniondale into two districts stems from spreading money around. 

“This is about removing our tax revenue. It’s all about money and power,” Jacobs said. “The politicians are prostituting themselves just to stay in office. I’m not here to fight for representation, I’m here to fight for fair lines and to keep Uniondale whole.”

Pat Harris of Uniondale added that the area is being split for similar reasons. 

“Taking from us is the only way that will make you more important in your area,” Harris said. “We are a community that knows how to rise.”

Every 10 years, the town is directed to participate in the redistricting process by town code in order to revise districts to ensure none has a substantially disproportionate difference in the size of the voter population compared to other districts.

As it stands, Hempstead currently has six councilmanic districts, which are each represented by one member of the Town Board. In addition to the six elected officials, the town supervisor also sits on the seven-member board.

Hempstead’s Town Board is currently made up of five Republican council members, Democrat Dorothy Goosby and Republican Supervisor Don Clavin. 

Baldwin, which has one zip code and is an unincorporated area, went from being split into three districts to two under the new proposal, which was released in late December. 

Karen Montalbano, the government liaison for the Baldwin Civic Association, continued to ask the town’s temporary redistricting commission to keep Baldwin in one district. 

“We’re asking you to listen to our No. 1 request to keep Baldwin whole,” Montalbano said. “We’re a diverse community and according to the John Lewis Voting Rights Acts, it puts the burden on local governments with records of discrimination to prove that changes won’t harm voters of color before they go into effect, including voter dilution.”

The white, non-Hispanic or Latino population makes up 52.4% of Hempstead, according to the U.S. Census. However, five of the six councilmanic districts are majority white while 47% of the town are people of color. 

“This map is flawed in almost every way,” said Michael Turi. “There are clearly enough residents of a protected class to create three majority-minority districts here in Hempstead based on the change in demographics. This map is a joke.”

The new maps were drawn by consultants from Schenectady-based Skylin Consulting, a political data firm. 

East Meadow, Franklin Square, North Valley Stream, Baldwin, Uniondale and Woodmere each contain portions of two districts while West Hempstead contains portions of three districts.

Out of the 35 unincorporated areas, known as “Census Designated Places,” 28 are kept whole. 

Under the proposal, an average of 92% of the cores of each district are preserved. Twenty-one of the 22 incorporated villages remain whole in the new proposal aside from Hempstead Village, which was split to achieve equal populations, according to Skyline. 

Hempstead’s adjusted population is 794,289, according to Skyline. State law requires no more than 5% total population deviation between districts to keep them equal. The proposal ranges from a population deviation of nearly 12% to 1.39%, Skyline said in a report. 

Portions of Floral Park, New Hyde Park and Mineola currently sit in District 2, represented by Council Member Thomas Muscarella. According to the new proposal, they would all remain in District 2.

Someone will need to eventually be appointed to the Town Board to take up the spot of Council member Anthony D’Esposito, who was sworn into the U.S. Congress Tuesday as the state’s representative for the 4th Congressional District. There is no requirement that the appointment take place before or after new district maps are finalized.

This redistricting process is the first time in the town’s 378-year history the board chose to use an independent commission, which is comprised of three people who were appointed unanimously. 

Gary Hudes, a former Republican councilman for the 6th District, chairs the commission and sits alongside Albert D’Agostino, a Republican, and Dorothy Brazley, a Democrat.

With the commission’s hearings over, they will have a work session and recommend a new map or maps to the board, which can then hold its own hearings. There is no deadline to ratify new maps.

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here