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Opinion

Brookhaven is right to set up redistricting commission

Brookhaven Town Hall in Farmingville A number of

Brookhaven Town Hall in Farmingville A number of public hearings about redistricting Brookhaven’s town council lines will be held starting this week in each district. (Aug. 17, 2008) Credit: Newsday / Bill Davis

It’s a hopeful sign that the Brookhaven Town Board has voted to set up a bipartisan committee to draw new electoral districts for next year based on the 2010 census.

The idea was Supervisor Mark Lesko’s, and the town board was wise to go along. The further away from politics we can get the redistricting process, the better off we’ll be. The voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.

The partisan maps drawn for the State Legislature and for the Nassau County Legislature  smelled badly of incumbent protection. Then the Suffolk County Legislature, which created an independent commission to do the redistricting after the 2010 census, prematurely backed away from the panel and decided to draw the lines itself. It’s hard to tell which is worse: not to have tried an independent commission at all, or to have created a commission and then killed it.

The Brookhaven committee, with three Democratic members, three Republicans, and two at-large members, has until Sept. 15 to come up with lines for next year’s town elections. Let’s hope they draw fair lines and the town board adopts them. The board should not back away from the committee without letting it finish its work. That's what Suffolk lawmakers did, and it's a bad precedent.

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