Brentwood Residents Sue Elections Board, Alleging Racial Discrimination

Apr 10, 2019

Residents from Brentwood, Long Island, asked a federal judge on Tuesday to halt elections for the Islip Town Board. They say the current election system discriminates against Latino residents.

The residents and community groups are part of a lawsuit against the town and the Suffolk County Board of Elections. The suit aims to establish council member districts with at least one ward that has a Latino majority.

“This issue is critically important for our communities, as we are demanding that we have equal representation in the town of Islip in making sure that communities of color and Latinos, whose voices need to be heard, have a place at the town of Islip,” said Eliana Fernandez, an organizer with Make the Road New York, an immigrant advocacy group involved in the suit.

A poster shows locations of homes of past and present members of the Islip Town Board.
Credit Jay Shah / WSHU

An accompanying visual shows the percentage of Latino residents in different Islip neighborhoods.
Credit Jay Shah / WSHU

María Magdalena Hernández, one of the plaintiffs, spoke through a translator after a hearing.

“[Somos parte de esta comunidad y merecemos la misma oportunidad de estar verdaderamente representados aquí.] We are part of this community and deserve an equal chance to be truly represented here.”

The Suffolk Board of Elections says it does not comment on ongoing litigation. Representatives from Islip Town were not available for comment.

A judge is expected to make a decision on the injunction over the next few weeks.