Some East End residents will have their New York State representatives replaced next year under the recently enacted, Democratic-led redistricting plan that Republicans promptly challenged in court, arguing the changes are unconstitutional.
The First Assembly District, which currently covers the South Fork, Shelter Island and stretches west to Shirley, under the revision ends in Westhampton and includes most of the North Fork. The Second Assembly District that has covered the Town of Southold instead stops at the Riverhead town line and pushes south into northern communities in the Town of Southampton. And the First Senate District that covers the entire East End pushes further west to Old Field on the North Shore and shrinks eastward from Bellport to Westhampton on the South Shore — assuming the plan survives legal challenges.
“I will have fond memories of all the folks I have worked with through the years that I will no longer have the privilege of representing,” said Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), who represents the first Assembly District and voted for the new maps. “I look forward to working for my new constituents in Southold, many of whom I know already from our regional endeavors to preserve and protect the East End.”
State Senator Antony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk), the Twin Forks rep in the upper chamber of the state Legislature, was critical of the changes, saying they were made by “Albany power brokers who are more interested in maintaining political power than serving the will and interest of New Yorkers.” Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead), who reps the second Assembly District, did not respond to a request for comment.
State lawmakers redrew their district lines and congressional district maps after the bipartisan Independent Redistricting Commission, made up of an equal number of Democratic and Republican appointees intended to prevent partisan gerrymandering — diluting or packing of voters into certain districts to sway election results — could not agree on a combined map, and punted responsibility. Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law days later the maps devised by the state Legislature’s Democratic majority.
GOP voters who filed the lawsuit challenging the maps called the new congressional district that covers the East End — New York’s First Congressional District currently held by U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) — and that will stretch into Nassau County, an “egregious gerrymander.”
The state attorney’s general office that is defending the case did not immediately have a comment.