Written by Ron Scaglia Friday, 11 January 2013 00:00
It’s only a theoretical possibility, but if a Republican-drawn map for new legislative districts is adopted, Republican incumbents Michael Venditto and Joe Belesi could face each other in a Republican primary this year. The proposed map would place both Venditto and Belesi in the same district.
“There still a lot of speculation and it is still speculation at this point,” commented Venditto about the proposal. “It is not a given that either map proposed by the Republican or Democratic commission members will be the accepted map.”
The issue of redistricting county legislative districts has been a controversial political issue going back to the 2011 elections, when Democrats went to court to stop Republicans from adopting lines drawn by the GOP.
Legislative districts are looked at by the Nassau County Legislature every 10 years in response to the national census. A bi-partisan commission has been created consisting of five members appointed by Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt prior to his death in October and five members appointed by Kevan Abrahams, the leader of the Democratic minority in the legislature. County Executive Ed Mangano appointed the chairperson, which is a non-voting position. The Republican appointees and the Democratic appointees have drawn separate maps both of which are available for viewing on Nassau County’s website. The legislature has until early March to accept either of these maps, modify them, or draw a completely different map. Because Republicans hold the majority in the legislature, it is the GOP map that is the focus of attention.
Under the GOP proposal, both Venditto and Belesi reside in the same district. It would be the 15th Legislative District and would encompass Massapequa from Jerusalem Avenue south to the water, East Massapequa, Massapequa Park and South Farmingdale, with the northern border at Route 109. Harbor Green, from Sunset Park south to the water, would be in the 4th Legislative District, which would cover the south shore of Nassau and include Atlantic Beach and Lawrence among other south shore communities.
North Massapequa would be thrust into the 17th Legislative District which would also include most of Farmingdale, Plainedge, and the southern part of Hicksville. Legislator Rose Walker, a Republican, lives within those boundaries.
“At this point the commission has completed their job, and I will be reviewing all the testimony from the commission as well as following the legal obligations expressed in our charter,” said Walker. “A map will be voted on by March 5.”
Democrats have blasted the proposed new districts as a Republican attempt to draw the legislative map more favorably for themselves. They have also blasted the lines for splitting up communities and being noncontiguous.
I have never seen anything like this,” commented Legislator Judy Jacobs, the former presiding officer, about the proposed GOP plan. “Everyone knows that redistricting is always political. However, there is a way to do it that makes sense and there is a way to do it that is a blatant misuse.”
Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves said that the process is not finalized, so the possibility remains that Venditto and Belesi could still be in separate legislative districts. In a statement she said, “We will do our due diligence to explore all factors involved with redistricting to meet the charter mandated deadline of March 5. Venditto made similar comments.
“There are still many steps left in the process, the most important of these steps being that we gather as much public input as possible. We still need to collect data and for me, the most important data we can collect is from our residents, particularly here in the Massapequa area. It would be a good thing to see the Massapequa areas stay together because there are a lot of common interests among the Massapequan communities. Everything is subject to what the residents think.”