Letter to the Editor - Redistricting

February 28, 2012

An Open Letter to the Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment:

I live in and represent the Town and Village of Ossining, and represent most of the Village of Briarcliff Manor, located in Westchester County. I have heard from numerous constituents in these municipalities over their concern for the proposed Senate District Maps. These proposed maps have placed the Town of Ossining, and the two villages within it, in a Senate District that has primarily been located in Rockland County.

As you know, Rockland and Westchester Counties are on opposite sides of the Hudson River and there is no bridge connecting Ossining to its proposed Senate District. For constituents to access a primarily Rockland County senatorís office, they would have to drive north, cross over the Bear Mountain Bridge, and pass through multiple communities not in the district. Alternatively, they could drive south over the Tappan Zee Bridge, again through multiple communities not in their Senate District. People would be forced to pay a toll to travel over these bridges just for the opportunity to meet with their Senator. While on a map these two counties are contiguous because of the Hudson River connection, they are different in many ways and practically they are not viewed as connected.

The proposed map will also make it much more difficult for the current senator in Rockland to fulfill the senatorís responsibilities in attending meetings and events in the Ossining and Briarcliff communities. This is because of the distance and time spent traveling over the Hudson River as well as the need to pass through many communities the Senator will not represent. This additional burden will not positively benefit the Ossining and Briarcliff communities.

In addition, the lack of a public meeting in between New York City and Albany has left many of my constituents feeling excluded from this process. Most could not take time off from work to travel to have their voices heard. While I have encouraged them to write to you regarding their concerns, they feel this issue is important enough to warrant a public hearing within a reasonable distance from this community.

I hope you will reconsider the choice to include the Town of Ossining and Villages of Ossining and Briarcliff in the 38th Senate District. Historically these municipalities have been included in Senate Districts within Westchester and dramatically altering their representation is a disservice to these communities.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Sandy Galef
Member of Assembly, 90th District