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Brookhaven residents call the town's redistricting process 'opaque and mismanaged'

J.D. Allen
Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine

With only a week left, some Town of Brookhaven residents are criticizing what they call an opaque and mismanaged redistricting process.

According to the town code, the once-every-ten-years redistricting is supposed to be approved by a bi-partisan commission of three Republicans, three Democrats, and two unaffiliated commissioners. However, the town board, which is dominated by Republicans, also has the ability to propose and approve its own redistricting map.

“There's this one map out there that has no input from us. That seems to be what the powers that be want," said George Hoffman, a Democrat-appointed member of the commission. "If that's the one that they tried to adopt, I think that there probably will be litigation.”

Democrats said public meetings for the commission weren’t noticed properly, that the maps were drawn in secret and without input from the commission, and that despite public outrage, they have not been told of future public meetings before the Sept. 15 deadline.

Residents of Coram, Gordon Heights and Bellport hamlets are upset that their district, which has the largest nonwhite population in the town, is being split and joined into multiple other districts.

Brookhaven Town officials didn’t immediately respond to questions. Instead, they deferred to the commission’s attorney who said that commission members were eventually allowed to question the mapmaker and that he is making revisions to the maps.

The town has said previously that the goal is to keep communities together through the redistricting process.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.