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Babylon changes town code to block county from drawing district lines

This is Babylon Town Hall on Dec. 14,

This is Babylon Town Hall on Dec. 14, 2011. Credit: Carl Corry

The Babylon Town Board on Tuesday changed the town code to ensure that the council, not the Suffolk County Board of Elections, would draw the lines under a proposal to divide the town into council districts.

The 4-0 vote, with Jacqueline Gordon absent, was a preemptive move that would only come into force if a petition drive led by town Republicans is successful in winning a November referendum asking town voters whether or not to abandon the current council system, under which Town Board members serve at-large.

Town Democrats under Supervisor Rich Schaffer have until Monday to challenge the validity of about 2,500 signatures petition drive organizers submitted last Friday to the Town Clerk’s office. Petition organizers need to reach a threshold of 1,906 signatures of registered town voters, or five percent of the last gubernatorial election turnout, to put the measure on the ballot November 8.

Petition organizers say the district system would result in better governance and town services. Opponents say the at-large council is fair and more efficient.

Most Long Island towns elect their board members in an at-large system. Hempstead, North Hempstead and Brookhaven are exceptions. Schaffer was among the supporters of a 1999 proposal for council districts in Babylon Town, but voters overwhelmingly rejected that proposition.


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