Hempstead Dems draft own redistricting map
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Democrats have released their proposed Hempstead Town redistricting map to counteract the Republican-controlled town board plan.
Democrats say the town's six-district map -- issued March 19 -- lacks consideration for minority communities and disfranchises voters.
The Democrats' "Fair District Map" creates two minority-majority districts, keeps the Five Towns area together and puts the bulk of seaside communities in one district. A minority-majority district is one in which the majority of people belong to a minority group, and these districts are mandated in the Voting Rights Act of 1982.
"We are keeping more people in similar communities together than they are," said Town of Hempstead Democratic Committee first deputy leader Bob Young. "We are going to fight."
District maps are redrawn every 10 years, to account for population changes. The board hired a consultant to analyze population data the town attorney's office used in crafting the map. But critics have called for a bipartisan redistricting commission and public hearings in each district with online streaming.
"Redistricting in Hempstead Town has been an open process," town spokeswoman Susie Trenkle-Pokalsky said in a statement. She said the process complies with federal and state laws and the federal voting rights act. "The Town Board is dedicated to the empowerment of minority communities and looks forward to adopting council district maps that continue to protect the voting power of minority communities."
In the town's proposal, most of Baldwin and Freeport would be taken out of District 1, the only proposed minority-majority district. The two communities would be included in District 5 with areas such as Wantagh and Bellmore.
"There has to be two minority-majority districts," Young said. "Whether these people want to vote Democrat or Republican is up to them, but they have to have a cohesive voice."
The two proposed minority-majority districts in the Democrats' plan would include District 1, with Elmont, South Floral Park, Franklin Square, West Hempstead, Hempstead and Uniondale. The other would be District 2, that would include portions of North Valley Stream, Valley Stream and South Valley Stream, Lakeview, South Hempstead, portions of Baldwin, Freeport and Roosevelt.
The town's plan for District 1 would include Lakeview, Hempstead, Uniondale, Roosevelt and a small portion of Baldwin and Freeport. District 2 would include Elmont, Floral Park, South Floral Park Stewart Manor, Garden City, Garden City South, East Garden City, West Hempstead and Salisbury.
The board plans to hold a redistricting hearing during its meeting April 9 in the Nathan L.H. Bennett Pavilion, adjacent to Hempstead Town Hall.