Responding to complaints, primarily from North Fork residents, New York State’s committee in charge of creating new electoral districts has changed its plan for the Twin Forks, leaving Southold in what will now be known as the Second Assembly District.
On Monday, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. released a statement saying he had learned of the change and was supportive of the new maps. The new redistricting plan being considered by the New York State Legislature would make Thiele’s district the new First Assembly District. His current district, encompassing East Hampton, Southampton and as well as a portion of Brookhaven is the Second Assembly District and includes 142,833 residents.
An original proposal suggested by the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment would have changed Thiele’s district to the First Assembly District, losing the Mastics and Shirley while picking up Shelter Island and Southold. However, residents of Southold and government leaders – including Thiele – balked at the idea of Southold joining that district and called for reform.
Pursuant to the 2010 census, each Assembly district in New York State should have no more than 129,089 residents, making Thiele’s current district 13,744 over the average. The new First Assembly District will have 128,932 residents within its borders, or 157 less than the average and will not include the Town of Southold.
Under the revised proposal, the Town of Southold will remain in what will become the Second Assembly District – if approved by the legislature. That district will also include northeast Brookhaven and Riverhead. Shelter Island will remain in Thiele’s district, but his section of Brookhaven will be reduced by about 16,000 residents, according to Thiele’s office.
“I look forward to representing the new First Assembly District,” said Thiele in a statement on Monday afternoon. “Ninety-eight percent of the district includes areas I already represent. Shelter Island, which will be added to my district, was part of my county legislative district in the late 1980s. I have continued to work with Shelter Island on many regional issues and look forward to representing them again. Further, I am pleased that the redistricting task force listened to public opinion and kept Southold in the current district with northeast Brookhaven and Riverhead, as I had requested.
Thiele added he would like to see any further redistricting plans taken on by an independent commission not made up with members of the state legislature to ensure politics do not enter the equation when re-drawing electoral boundary lines.