Redistricting maps approved Tuesday by the Hempstead Town Board carve Baldwin,...

Redistricting maps approved Tuesday by the Hempstead Town Board carve Baldwin, North Bellmore, Uniondale and West Hempstead into multiple districts.  Credit: Howard Schnapp

Opponents of the Town of Hempstead’s newly approved redistricting maps have called them "racist" and divisive and are vowing to challenge the redrawn voting districts in court.

The town board unanimously approved the new maps Tuesday night by a vote of 6-0, with the fourth district vacated by the election of Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park).

The new maps split up the hamlets of Uniondale, Baldwin, North Bellmore and West Hempstead into separate districts. While several of the hamlets were already separated, the new maps redistrict portions of North Freeport and Uniondale, such as Mitchel Field and Roosevelt Field. Uniondale was redrawn south of Hempstead Turnpike with a carve-out to maintain the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Three of the hamlets split up by the new map have large minority populations, residents said at the Tuesday night meeting, and Hempstead Town as a whole now has a larger percentage of nonwhite residents than in the past. Several speakers said that in a town with a 47% nonwhite population, at least two of the districts should be made up of a majority of Black and Hispanic residents. The maps adopted Tuesday, other speakers said, maintain the status quo in a town that has only had one Black council member since the districts were formed in 2000.

On Wednesday, Pearl Jacobs of the Nostrand-Gardens Civic Association in Uniondale said the town was “cracking and packing” their community through gerrymandering. She said the community would challenge the maps to keep Uniondale whole.

“It’s suppressing our votes,” Jacobs said. “It’s blatant racism and discrimination. It’s blatant gerrymandering, there’s no question about it.”

In a statement Wednesday, Hempstead Town Attorney John Maccarone defended the redistricting process as an accurate reflection of the latest population in the town to represent each of the town’s six voting districts.

“Throughout the redistricting process leading up to approval of the map, the Hempstead Town Board has been acutely focused on creating districts that are fair, and compliant with all applicable federal and state laws,” Maccarone said.

“We have listened attentively to the input of residents, and incorporated that input and other redistricting considerations such as compactness, respect for communities of interest, and minimizing the dividing of villages and hamlets between multiple districts," he said. "The adopted map is fair and legally compliant. I commend the Board for its thoughtful approval of the map.”

At the Tuesday board meeting and at a pair of hearings in the past week, civic groups from in Uniondale, Baldwin, North Merrick and North Bellmore have said the new maps will marginalize communities of color.

“This is a horrendous mistake and unconstitutional,” said Mary-Ellen Kreye, of Uniondale at the meeting. “By stacking the minority population in one district, you’re treating us as three-fifths citizens. You may pass it, but know it will be challenged and not upheld.”

Maccarone said of the town’s 60 unincorporated hamlets, 56 of the communities remain intact in their own districts.

District 2, spanning from East Meadow to Elmont, and District 4, including East Rockaway, Oceanside and south Baldwin, were each reduced by about 1,300 residents, followed by District 1, which shrank by about 700 residents in communities including Uniondale, Hempstead, Roosevelt and North Roosevelt.

District 5, spanning from Freeport to Seaford, gained nearly 1,800 new residents, followed by District 6 from East Meadow to Levittown, which grew by 1,500 new residents.

Town board members, including Republican Supervisor Don Clavin and Deputy Supervisor Dorothy Goosby, the board’s lone Democrat, who represents the First District, did not comment on their votes. Goosby brought a civil rights lawsuit against the board, resulting in a landmark ruling to create the separate council districts in 2000, to give minority voters greater representation rather than voting at-large.

District 1 is the only town district made up of a majority of Black and Hispanic voters and "under the existing map," it will be maintained, according to a report by Schenectady-based Skyline Consulting, a company hired to redraw the maps.

Hofstra University professor Lawrence Levy, the executive dean of the school's National Center for Suburban Studies, said redistricting could alter the political landscape, depending on what boundaries are redrawn for Republicans and Democrats.

“The key will be whether this is fair to minority communities and the extent it might survive judicial scrutiny. It depends on the overall numbers of Blacks and Latinos in the district,” Levy said. “Individual communities may have a gripe about being broken up, but this has been a political reality, fair or not.”

He said the town’s First District could lose a larger voter bloc if the 55,000 residents in the Village of Hempstead vote for cityhood and no longer vote in town elections.

“If that goes through, it would change the political map dramatically,” Levy said. “If residents no longer participate in town elections, that would have a more dramatic effect on the town’s electorate than redistricting.”

Opponents of the Town of Hempstead’s newly approved redistricting maps have called them "racist" and divisive and are vowing to challenge the redrawn voting districts in court.

The town board unanimously approved the new maps Tuesday night by a vote of 6-0, with the fourth district vacated by the election of Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park).

The new maps split up the hamlets of Uniondale, Baldwin, North Bellmore and West Hempstead into separate districts. While several of the hamlets were already separated, the new maps redistrict portions of North Freeport and Uniondale, such as Mitchel Field and Roosevelt Field. Uniondale was redrawn south of Hempstead Turnpike with a carve-out to maintain the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Three of the hamlets split up by the new map have large minority populations, residents said at the Tuesday night meeting, and Hempstead Town as a whole now has a larger percentage of nonwhite residents than in the past. Several speakers said that in a town with a 47% nonwhite population, at least two of the districts should be made up of a majority of Black and Hispanic residents. The maps adopted Tuesday, other speakers said, maintain the status quo in a town that has only had one Black council member since the districts were formed in 2000.

On Wednesday, Pearl Jacobs of the Nostrand-Gardens Civic Association in Uniondale said the town was “cracking and packing” their community through gerrymandering. She said the community would challenge the maps to keep Uniondale whole.

“It’s suppressing our votes,” Jacobs said. “It’s blatant racism and discrimination. It’s blatant gerrymandering, there’s no question about it.”

In a statement Wednesday, Hempstead Town Attorney John Maccarone defended the redistricting process as an accurate reflection of the latest population in the town to represent each of the town’s six voting districts.

“Throughout the redistricting process leading up to approval of the map, the Hempstead Town Board has been acutely focused on creating districts that are fair, and compliant with all applicable federal and state laws,” Maccarone said.

“We have listened attentively to the input of residents, and incorporated that input and other redistricting considerations such as compactness, respect for communities of interest, and minimizing the dividing of villages and hamlets between multiple districts," he said. "The adopted map is fair and legally compliant. I commend the Board for its thoughtful approval of the map.”

At the Tuesday board meeting and at a pair of hearings in the past week, civic groups from in Uniondale, Baldwin, North Merrick and North Bellmore have said the new maps will marginalize communities of color.

“This is a horrendous mistake and unconstitutional,” said Mary-Ellen Kreye, of Uniondale at the meeting. “By stacking the minority population in one district, you’re treating us as three-fifths citizens. You may pass it, but know it will be challenged and not upheld.”

Maccarone said of the town’s 60 unincorporated hamlets, 56 of the communities remain intact in their own districts.

District 2, spanning from East Meadow to Elmont, and District 4, including East Rockaway, Oceanside and south Baldwin, were each reduced by about 1,300 residents, followed by District 1, which shrank by about 700 residents in communities including Uniondale, Hempstead, Roosevelt and North Roosevelt.

District 5, spanning from Freeport to Seaford, gained nearly 1,800 new residents, followed by District 6 from East Meadow to Levittown, which grew by 1,500 new residents.

Town board members, including Republican Supervisor Don Clavin and Deputy Supervisor Dorothy Goosby, the board’s lone Democrat, who represents the First District, did not comment on their votes. Goosby brought a civil rights lawsuit against the board, resulting in a landmark ruling to create the separate council districts in 2000, to give minority voters greater representation rather than voting at-large.

District 1 is the only town district made up of a majority of Black and Hispanic voters and "under the existing map," it will be maintained, according to a report by Schenectady-based Skyline Consulting, a company hired to redraw the maps.

Hofstra University professor Lawrence Levy, the executive dean of the school's National Center for Suburban Studies, said redistricting could alter the political landscape, depending on what boundaries are redrawn for Republicans and Democrats.

“The key will be whether this is fair to minority communities and the extent it might survive judicial scrutiny. It depends on the overall numbers of Blacks and Latinos in the district,” Levy said. “Individual communities may have a gripe about being broken up, but this has been a political reality, fair or not.”

He said the town’s First District could lose a larger voter bloc if the 55,000 residents in the Village of Hempstead vote for cityhood and no longer vote in town elections.

“If that goes through, it would change the political map dramatically,” Levy said. “If residents no longer participate in town elections, that would have a more dramatic effect on the town’s electorate than redistricting.”

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