Difficult as it may be to believe, it seems that the independent commission appointed to redraw the lines for Brookhaven's six councilmanic districts really has been independent. Elected officials didn't even see the proposed new maps until they went up online, in preparation for a hearing this evening. That's a good sign.

Let's be realistic, though. Town board members, like all elected officials, deeply loathe the idea of becoming former elected officials. They'll try to ensure that the new maps protect their interests.

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But this process is not supposed to be about incumbent protection. The goal is not to draw districts that give incumbents the voters they want. It's to shape districts that are compact and contiguous; that don't split up communities which should be kept together; that come as close as possible to the ideal of one person, one vote. Districts like that could lead to more competitive races, too.

By all accounts, the eight-person commission did its work without external interference or internal rancor. Now, after tonight's. hearing at Town Hall, they'll submit a final plan by mid-month. The town board has until mid-December to act on it.

If you live in Brookhaven, you'd be wise to attend the hearing Thursday at 6:30 and see the maps -- or view them in the In the Spotlight section of brookhaven.org. Then be ready to speak up if town board members seem about to twist nonpartisan maps to suit their re-election needs. These should be your maps, not theirs.