A New York State Legislature task force recently released redistricting recommendations that would join the East End under one legislative district – much to the ire of many North Fork politicians. Last week, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. said he believes the North Fork and the South Fork should have separate representation and the task force should go back to the drawing table.
On Wednesday, February 15 Thiele announced he has requested the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment revise its redistricting plan for the East End to establish a Brookhaven/North Fork District that would include northeast Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southold. Thiele’s current district — the Second Assembly District — would encompass East Hampton, Southampton, Shelter Island and southeast Brookhaven.
In January, the task force released redistricting plans that would add one Assembly district to Long Island based on population increases, as laid out in the state’s Constitution.
Thiele, who has been critical that the New York State Legislature completed a redistricting proposal rather than have an independent party make recommendations, said last week he would support a redistricting plan that was truly independent and non-partisan. Thiele has already sponsored legislation in an effort to ensure the legislature would have to adhere to that standard in the future.
“I am disappointed that this year’s process was not independent,” said Thiele. “We must adopt a constitutional amendment that will insure that all future redistricting plans are prepared by an independent, non-partisan commission.”
Thiele said that while the Task Force proposal for the East End met non-partisan criteria such as equal population, contiguity, and not dividing political subdivisions, it was clear from public hearings and comments there was strong sentiment in Southold that the community should be part of the Brookhaven/North Fork District.
“I have enjoyed working with Southold Town government through the years including the Peconic Bay Estuary Program, the CommunityPreservation Fund, Five Town Rural Transit, Peconic County, the East End
Supervisors and Mayors Association, and the repeal of the MTA payroll tax and the saltwater fishing license,” said Thiele. “I would enthusiastically represent them in Albany. However, the state should not compound its failure to utilize an independent, non-partisan redistricting process by ignoring home rule. The final plan must accurately reflect the will of the public. The most important function of any elected official is to listen. Therefore, I have urged the Task Force to modify the plan.”
A final plan is expected to be approved in the next few weeks and will be in effect for the 2012 election