With the exception of Riverhead, the East End of Long Island may end up united as one New York State legislative district led by Fred W. Thiele, Jr., a Sag Harbor native.
Last week, the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment announced a redistricting proposal that will add one Assembly district to Long Island giving it a total of 22 districts. The proposal also shrinks the amount of area currently represented by Thiele nominally in an effort to decrease the population of the assembly district on the South Fork to comply with United State Census standards.
The redistricting changes the boundaries of the first and second Assembly districts. While Thiele currently represents the South Fork stretching as far west as Mastic and Shirley in the Second Assembly District, under the new proposal, Thiele’s district would become the First Assembly District and would lose Mastic, Mastic Beach and Shirley. However, he would gain Southold and Shelter Island, making the district one that stretches across the East End, with the exception of Riverhead.
Thiele’s current district is the 2nd District and has 142,833 residents. Pursuant to the 2010 U.S. Census, each Assembly District should have 129,089 residents. Thiele’s district was 13,744 residents over the average. The new district will have 128,929, 160 less than the average or within the median by 0.12%.
The newly proposed district would be 75.8% White, 4% Black, 17.1% Hispanic, 1.1% Asian, and 0.6% American Indian.
On Monday, while Thiele said the final proposal for the First Assembly District was not one he took umbrage with, however, that the New York State Assembly took on the task of designing the state-wide redistricting was not a policy he supported.
“If I was going to summarize my feelings into a couple of sentences I thought this was a flawed process and the state would have been better served by having an independent firm handle this proposal than the assembly,” said Thiele. “Voters are supposed to select their elected leaders. Elected leaders are not meant to select their voters.”
However, when it came to the East End, Thiele said he felt the process did adhere to basic non-political standards, like ensuring communities were not divided, but that communities with common interests were grouped together.
Thiele said public hearings will be held across the State of New York in coming months and the ultimately the New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo would have to sign off on the plan. However, Governor Cuomo has already said he would veto the current proposal as it is politically designed to serve the Senate’s Republican majority as well as the Assembly’s Democratic majority instead of ensuring the redistricting was one that supported the communities involved.
“Although I don’t expect anything to change on the East End, my suspicion is the overall map will change, and it is possible we could see legal challenges to the proposal,” said Thiele.
He added that the New York State Legislature also draws lines for Congressional districts, and that map has yet to be released with a primary set for June 26.
“There is not a lot of time to get this all done,” he said.