The new state legislative district boundaries, as drawn by the Joint Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment, have reduced Long Island's Assembly delegation from 22 to 21 seats, granting the remaining seat to New York City. The elimination of a Long Island district, however, means that Assemblywoman Maureen O'Connell, who currently has jurisdiction over the 17th Assembly District (A.D.), will gain North Bellmore. She will also delve deeper into Merrick in addition to the areas she normally covers within the 17th A.D.
"One of our seats in the Assembly has been eliminated, which means that the additional population was dispersed among the remaining districts. We all gained approximately 10,000 additional constituents," O'Connell said in a phone interview last Thursday. "Each of us are going from approximately 120 to 121,000 to about 130,000 new citizens. We're all gaining in population. North Bellmore is very new to the 17th and I go a bit deeper into Merrick and will also cover a little bit of Bellmore."
The reapportionment of the assembly districts adheres to the principles expressed in the Voting Rights Act and follows each decennial census of the state's population in an effort to ensure that citizens are appropriately represented by their elected officials.
In a previous Garden City Life article, Assemblyman William Parment, co-chair of the Task Force, said, "If there were no population changes we wouldn't have to do this, but the population changes are such that some districts have as few as 100,000 people and some have as many as 170,000 people. [The] US Supreme Court's requirement for equal representation, the so-called one-person one-vote standard, must be met following each census."
Moreover, the plan will have Assemblywoman Donna Ferrara, who currently represents the 15th A.D. and is up for re-election in November, or James Buonagura of Hicksville, who intends on running against Ferrara, covering East Garden City, which would be included in the newly reapportioned 15th A.D.
According to Joseph Mondello, Nassau Republican chairman, the GOP selected Ferrara, who's been an assembly member for 10 years, over Assemblyman Marc Herbst currently of the 14th A.D. and whose district is being eliminated.
The 17th A.D. is currently comprised of Garden City, Carle Place, Garden City Park, Mineola, parts of Floral Park, Stewart Manor, the Willistons and New Hyde Park. The plan's rough draft originally had O'Connell covering additional areas in the Town of Oyster Bay, including the Brookvilles, Matinecock, Locust Valley, Oyster Bay, East Norwich, parts of Syosset and more. These areas, however, were not included to be covered by O'Connell in the final draft.
"Redistricting...is really a response to the knowledge that the current districts are mal-apportioned if measured by the criteria of whether or not they have substantial equal numbers of residents residing within the current districts," Parment said.
The new boundaries will be in effect for the 2002 election.