Lawmaker: Don't Shrink Rockland Government Before 2020

Rockland County executive candidates differ over whether legislative redistricting could occur before the 2020 census.


Rockland County Legislator and County Executive Candidate Ilan Schoenberger (D-Ramapo) responded to opponent David Fried’s proposal to reduce the number of legislators saying the recommendation was flawed. Fried, a former Spring Valley justice, put forward a proposal last week to decrease the number of county legislators from 17 to 11. 

Fried, a Democrat, said such a change would create greater efficiency in government and noted that legislators in other counties represent larger numbers of people than in Rockland. Fried’s initiative gained support from Republican rival candidate Legislator Ed Day (R-New City/Pomona), who said it was worth researching. 

Fried’s spokesman Stephen Papas said they believe administrative law would allow a public referendum on the issue to take place before the 2020 census.

“We were very careful to research the process to ensure that these actions could be taken,” noted Papas. “The Rockland County Legislature has previously been reduced in size during Census years but hasn't been done in non-Census years.” 

Schoenberger’s legal interpretation differed and issued a statement that he believes redistricting can only take place every 10 years following a census. Rockland’s legislative districts were redrawn in 2011 after the 2010 census.

The reapportionment or restructuring of the Legislature, by law, can only be done once every ten years, co-incidental with the release of the Census,” Schoenberger stated.  “Unfortunately, by law, we are not able to reduce the size of the Legislature until after the 2020 census.” 

Schoenberger referred to New York State Law Municipal Home Rule Section 10 under subdivision (f) as setting the requirement that redistricting can only occur once every 10 years.  He also referenced an Appellate Court decision in the 1980s involving Rensselaer County's attempt to redistrict.

Day said Fried's idea appears to have merit and should be studied. He forwarded it to the legislature’s attorney for assessment and review.

“I absolutely expect it to come up as a topic for discussion, “ said Day.

Schoenberger said he previously proposed reducing the legislature from 17 to 15 members.  He said the proposal failed to gain support in 2000 and there was not enough time between the release of the 2010 census and the election to restructure the number of districts. However, districts were redrawn after the 2010 census in time for the 2011 legislative election when all seats were up.

The county’s population of more than 311,000 after the 2010 census breaks down into 17 legislative districts of about 18,335 residents. A transition to 11 legislators would mean each would represent approximately 28,335. 

“The result of reducing the Legislature to 11 members would be a dilution of minority representation and make it far more difficult to elect people of color and other minorities to the Legislature of Rockland County,” said Schoenberger.




Rockland County Legislator Ed Day March 14, 2013 at 01:17 PM
This former member of law enforcement knows better than to get in between two attorneys of different opinions! My position was, and is, very simple ... No matter where the idea comes from, no matter what the source, if potential exists that may save our taxpayers money it should be looked at, as long as it complies with previous court decisions and does not compromise Town representation. I have been submitted it for legislative and legal review, and we'll see exactly what the facts are. This is also about the cost of government and nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Eric Schatz March 14, 2013 at 03:49 PM
Let's make the size of the legislature 315,158*. They can vote by cable box. Stop attempts to gerrymander or exclude any particular population group by empowering everybody. * Rockland County population 7/2011, U.S. Census
Judy Kurland March 17, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Sounds like a good idea. Anything that can save us money in these times is worthwhile. And I, for one, wouldn't listen to anything a politician from Ramapo says. The whole community has disgraced themselves and the rest of Rockland with their conniving and cheating.


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