A proposal to change how your town council is elected will be on this November’s ballot.
Council members are currently elected at large by all the voters of Islip, but, if this measure
passes, they will be elected from four regional wards. The plan brings town government
closer to the residents by doing away with an entrenched single-party system that has allowed
too many people to be underrepresented for far too long.
Unfortunately, in an attempt to control the process of democracy, Town Board members also
passed a resolution giving themselves the power to draw their own districts. In fact, former
Town Supervisor Pete McGowan said in a March 8, 2006 Newsday article, “We’re not going to
‘fix’ the boundaries. We’re going to draw the boundaries.” Should the Town Board members
really be playing partisan politics with the district lines? I believe the citizens of Islip deserve
a government that represents every community’s interests – not just those of the Town Board
It’s imperative that something as fundamental to our democracy as who we can vote for be
decided in a fair and bipartisan way. While it may not be perfect, I believe the Board of Elections
is the proper entity to oversee this process. Working in conjunction with a Community Advisory
Roundtable, made up of community leaders who fairly represent different cross-sections of the
town, a just compromise can be reached. This roundtable would engage in healthy debates to
advise the BOE on how to draw the lines in the fairest and most representative way.
There is also some question over whether or not the Town Board even has the legal authority to
draw its own districts. Legal issues aside, the Town Board should do the right thing and let the
bipartisan Board of Elections draw the district lines with input from community leaders to ensure
the most democratic form of representation. The people of Islip have earned it.
Member of Assembly