Nassau Republicans, Democrats trade barbs over legislative redistricting

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Republicans and Democrats on a panel charged with redrawing boundaries for Nassau County legislative districts began trading barbs Friday, after both sides had submitted new redistricting proposals only the night before.

Democrats on the 11-member redistricting commission said the GOP proposal amounted to gerrymandering.

Republicans said Democrats’ plan to create five “majority-minority” districts in which Black, Latino and Asian voters comprise more than 50% of the electorate did not meet legal standards.

After completion of a series of public hearings in communities across Nassau County, each side presented their respective maps at a legislative work session Thursday night. 

The submissions marked the beginning of the final round in a once-in-a-decade process of redrawing all 19 legislative districts based on the 2020 census.

Comments Friday by Republicans and Democrats indicated the debate over new legislative lines will be contentious.

Democrats say their map reflects the county’s diverse population, eliminates partisan gerrymandering and complies with all state, federal and local requirements.

“The Democratic maps put an end to the rigged Republican system and actually let the people choose their representatives — not the other way around,” Dave Mejias, chairman of the commission’s Democratic delegation, told Newsday Friday. 

But Frank X. Moroney, the GOP-appointed chairman of the panel, called Mejias’ allegations of gerrymandering “a fantasy.” 

Moroney said Republican consultants’ initial review of Democrats’ draft map shows it doesn’t meet the legal definition of majority-minority districts. 

“Our map meets all legal standards, both the federal and state,” Moroney, a nonvoting member of the commission, told Newsday.

“Their map and statement that they have created five legal majority-minority districts is not true,” Moroney said. “After an initial analysis, the alleged majority-minority districts appear to be deficient.” 

A public hearing on the maps is scheduled for Nov. 16, and the panel expects to vote Nov. 21 on a final map to submit to the Nassau County Legislature.

The 19-member legislature, where Republicans have a 12-7 majority, could vote to accept the commission’s final map or draw its own.

The legislature is expected to adopt a new map by January.

The Nassau redistricting panel has five members appointed by the legislature’s presiding officer, Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) and five by Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport).

Moroney was appointed by Republican County Executive Bruce Blakeman.

The commission’s goal is to create 19 new legislative districts, each with about 73,500 people, and draft a map the county legislature will adopt, according to panel members.