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Nassau GOP offers redistricting plan; Dems vow to fight

Nassau Republicans submitted their proposed redistricting map for

Nassau Republicans submitted their proposed redistricting map for the county legislature, putting six incumbent lawmakers into three districts. (Feb. 6, 2013) Credit: Nassau GOP

Nassau Republicans submitted their proposed redistricting map for the county legislature Wednesday, putting six incumbent lawmakers into three districts.

The new lines affect four Democratic legislators and two Republicans.

While Republicans said the map is fair and increases minority voting rights, Democrats argued the new lines were drawn along partisan lines. Republicans hold a 10-9 majority in the legislature and appear to have the votes to pass the plan.

The map merges Democratic Legis. David Denenberg of Merrick and Democratic Legis. Joseph Scannell into a redrawn Fifth District in Baldwin. Denenberg's current 19th District would have no incumbent.

Democratic Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton's 18th District in Glen Cove would merge into Democratic Legis. Wayne Wink's 11th District in Roslyn. The 18th District would then be vacant.

Republican Legis. Joseph Belesi of Farmingdale would lose his 14th District as it merges with GOP Legis. Michael Venditto's 12th District in Massapequa. The redrawn 14th District, which would stretch from Garden City to Bethpage, would have no incumbent.

Political insiders from both parties said Belesi plans to retire this year. The retired Nassau police officer has said he would wait until the map was released before making a decision about his political future.

Frank Moroney, spokesman for the Republican legislative majority, said the map was drawn without consideration to incumbency.

"This is a map that was designed to comply with federal law and it does just that," he said. "The changes were driven by public comment and not by politics."

But Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs said he would fight the GOP plan.

"This new map is outrageous and unnecessarily disruptive to current political lines," he said. "It continues to break up communities that should be kept together."

Democrats have proposed their own map, which keeps all 19 legislative districts together.

The Republican map varies in several aspects from the one submitted in December by GOP members of the Nassau Temporary Districting Advisory Commission.

The new map, Moroney said, utilizes changes proposed by a GOP consultant -- Skyline Demographic Consultants of Albany -- along with suggestions made by legislative staff and members of the public.

For example, Long Beach's Barrier Islands are kept together, but District 4 would lose much of Oceanside. Great Neck was restored entirely in District 10, as was Plainview in District 16. But the Five Towns would be split among Districts 3, 4 and 7.

Many of the legislative changes, Moroney said, are designed to increase minority voting rights. The new map would create three minority districts: Uniondale's District 1, represented by Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams; Westbury's District 2, represented by Legis. Robert Troiano and Elmont's District 3, represented by Legis. Carrié Solages.

The legislature's Rules Committee will vote on the GOP map on Monday, while the full legislature will have its say on Feb. 25, Moroney said. It's unclear, he said, if the legislature will vote on the Democrats' proposed map.

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