Editorial: Redistricting — a lesson in community solidarity

Editorial: Redistricting — a lesson in community solidarity

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After months of controversy, the Town of Brookhaven’s redistricting process is nearing completion. Earlier this week, the town released its latest proposal to reapportion its six council districts.

While this new map signals progress for the residents of Council District 1, our work is unfinished. This map still splits Comsewogue School District unnecessarily. As this redistricting process enters the home stretch, let’s remember how we got here. 

At the outset, powerful and unknown forces sought to crack Council District 1, targeting Port Jefferson Station and Terryville which share a school district, zip code, library, civic association and chamber of commerce. The original draft maps proposed cutting this hamlet in two, dividing our residents across different council districts. If adopted, these plans could have caused a diversion of public resources away from our area and disrupted years of progress — and future plans — made by our residents.

Seeing that our interests were at stake, the people took action. Civic organizations and business groups mobilized the troops, sending members to public hearings to resist these plans. Many spread the word by writing letters to the editor, which appeared on this page. And our hometown paper regularly covered the issue and vigorously editorialized on behalf of our districts.

The people of Port Jefferson Station/Terryville and beyond presented an overwhelming, unified front — a force too large to be ignored. Confronted by such stark opposition, the redistricting committee had little choice but to acquiesce to the community’s demands, restoring the boundaries of Council District 1 to their previous form.

The Town Board’s new map looks promising for most Comsewogue residents, but not all. Under this plan, the dividing line between CD1 and CD2 is Pine Street, meaning Comsewogue families in the school district east of Pine will belong to Council District 2. 

This year’s redistricting controversy has brought our community together. It has demonstrated the power of civic and business groups in coordinating their efforts. It has taught us there is strength in unity. It has also illustrated the dynamic interplay between a community and a community newspaper. 

When we speak with one voice, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. The Town Board will hold a public hearing on Thursday, Sept. 29, at 5 p.m. On that day, we must tell our elected representatives to bring our neighbors back into CD1. For the betterment of our community, let’s finish our work to the bitter end. No Comsewogue family can be left behind. 

Building upon our successes, we should remember we are not alone in this cause. The Mount Sinai activists were equally triumphant in preventing the splitting of their hamlet. And in CD4, our neighbors in Coram and Gordon Heights continue to fight apparent attempts to gerrymander that area.

The Town Board has a 6-1 Republican majority, and must adopt a new map by Dec. 15. How we proceed over the coming weeks could impact Brookhaven elections over the next 10 years.