Thiele: North and South forks should remain split in Assembly

GIANNA VOLPE FILE PHOTO | Assemblyman Fred Thiele speaking at a breast cancer awareness forum on Shelter Island in November.

South Fork Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) has added his voice to the chorus of opposition to a redistricting plan that would place Southold in his assembly district.

“I have enjoyed working with Southold Town government through the years including the Peconic Bay Estuary Program, the Community Preservation Fund, Five Town Rural Transit, Peconic County, the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association, and the repeal of the MTA payroll tax and the saltwater fishing license,” he said in a press release issued Wednesday. “I would enthusiastically represent them in Albany. However, the state should not compound its failure to utilize an independent, non-partisan redistricting process by ignoring home rule. The final plan must accurately reflect the will of the public. The most important function of any elected official is to listen. Therefore, I have urged the task force to modify the plan.”

The New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research (LATFOR), announced a proposed change that would put Southold and Shelter Island in the same assembly district as the South Fork, while the current North Fork district would end at the Southold Town line in Laurel and would extend westward to Brookhaven. The district lines needed to be redrawn after the 2010 census to reflect population changes.

Mr. Thiele suggested that the South Fork district include Shelter Island, East Hampton and Southampton and a southern portion of Brookhaven, while the North Fork district would include Southold, Riverhead and a northern portion of Brookhaven.

Mr. Thiele said in the release that “it was clear from public hearings and comments that there was strong sentiment in Southold to be part of the Brookhaven/North Fork District.”

North Fork Assemblyman Dan Losquadro has led the charge to keep the North Fork district contiguous. He held a press conference urging residents to keep the district intact at Southold Town Hall last week and spoke against the proposed change at a LATFOR meeting in Hauppauge last Thursday.

LATFOR is expecting to present revised maps to the public within a few weeks, in order to have the new district lines in place for this year’s election.

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