Court Dismisses Challenges To New County Legislative Districts

Challenges to the Rockland County Legislature’s new redistricting plan have been dismissed in state Supreme Court and the plan remains scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

The redistricting plan created new county legislative districts in response to the results of the 2020 Census, with the new districts each containing roughly the same number of people.

Rockland County Legislature Chairman Jay Hood Jr. said the plan was solid and that many factors were considered over a period of months before a final version was adopted on Nov. 1, 2022.

“Our goal from Day One was to listen to the people and to follow the rules that govern what is and what isn’t required to be considered when putting such an important plan into place,” Chairman Hood said. “This was a bipartisan effort that legislators put a lot of work into and I’m glad to see that the court has dismissed the inappropriate challenges that just one person made.”

Prior to adoption of the new district boundaries, the largest district contained 24,089 people while the smallest contained 17,324. Each of Rockland’s 17 county Legislative Districts now contain about 19,918 people.

County Legislators Alden H. Wolfe and Michael Grant co-chaired the Special Committee to Redistrict the Legislature in Accordance with the 2020 Census, which also included County Legislators Harriet D. Cornell, Toney L. Earl, Lon M. Hofstein, Douglas J. Jobson, John W. McGowan, Aney Paul, Philip Soskin, Vincent D. Tyer and Itamar J. Yeger.

“I hope the people will now feel even more confident in the process that was undertaken and the resulting boundaries,” Rockland County Majority Leader Wolfe said. “The plan reflects the changes in population and the racial diversity that exists across Rockland while also taking into account a community’s ability to elect the representative of their choice.”

Legislator Grant said the expert who reviewed the completed plan on behalf of the Legislature in response to the court challenge opined that the adopted new boundaries met the necessary requirements.

“The pay off for all of the work undertaken as part of this effort, while it was sometimes very tedious because it was so detail-oriented, are new legislative districts that will well serve Rockland County’s residents for the next decade,” Legislator Grant said.

Rockland County Legislature Minority Leader Lon M. Hofstein said that while no plan could please every person, the redistricting plan now in place did accomplish many goals.

“As I’ve stated previously, there isn’t a redistricting plan that all would consider  perfect, but I believe as a result of our efforts what we did accomplish with the adopted new plan, is to meet all legal requirements while simultaneously serving the people to the best of our abilities,” Legislator Hofstein said.

The redistricting process included the hiring of a consultant to help create the new boundaries, a different consultant to advise the minority members of the County Legislature, a series of five public community forums in each of Rockland’s towns, five additional redistricting committee meetings, news releases, social media postings, livestreaming of meetings and forums, posting of the livestream videos publicly, news media coverage, and other efforts.

Among the goals accomplished by the new plan:

  • Narrow Population Deviation: Considered the highest ranked standard when conducting redistricting. Rockland’s new plan ranges from -0.94 percent below the ideal target of 19,918 per district to just +1.24 percent above the target. New York State law allows a much larger deviation of up to 5 percent.
  • Hispanic Minority District: Retains the existing Hispanic Minority District based in Haverstraw with 61 percent Hispanic Voting Age Population in District 3.
  • Minority Population In Spring Valley: Rebalances the minority population in Spring Valley to create two solidly minority districts. These districts provide opportunities for each of the county’s largest minority groups to effectively elect a candidate of their choosing.

District 8 with 42 percent non-Hispanic Black Voting Age Population and 32 percent Hispanic Voting Age Population.

District 14 with a Hispanic population plurality – 36 percent Hispanic Voting Age Population and 25 percent non-Hispanic Voting Age Population.

  • Communities Of Interest: Numerous communities of interest were identified by the public in comments to the Redistricting Committee, including the request that the people within the Suffern School District are a community of interest that needs a legislative district fully within the school district. This was done with the realignment of the District 12 boundary.
  • Fewer Districts Cross Town Boundaries: In the existing boundary map, nine legislative district cross town boundaries. In the new adopted plan, it has been reduced to 5 (Districts 2, 9, 10, 14, 17), with just one consisting of three towns (District 1)
  • Improves Overall Compactness: Plan B improves overall compactness vs. the current boundaries, with scores ranging from 2.9 percent to 7.5 percent.

The new boundaries take effect Jan. 1, 2024, with all 17 Legislative seats up for election on Nov. 7, 2023.

Learn more about redistricting and find your Legislative District map by visiting here:

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