Newly elected Presiding Officer Kevin McCaffrey wasted no time in moving to undo the bitterly contested redistricting plan pushed through by the outgoing Democratic majority at a special meeting on New Year’s Eve.
McCaffrey, at the legislature’s organizational meeting yesterday, sponsored a procedural motion to rescind the its Dec. 31 adoption of the controversial redistricting plan.
Citing a memorandum by the county attorney and the Dec. 27 decision of State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Farneti, McCaffrey’s procedural motion says the adoption of the reapportionment plan violated the county charter and was in excess of the legislature’s authority.
The motion was referred to the legislature’s ways and means committee.
The Democrats’ reapportionment plan was approved by the legislature in a party-line vote at a special meeting called for that purpose on Friday, the last day Democrats held the majority in the legislature.
The Democrats’ plan changed the boundaries of the Second Legislative District, moving the hamlets of Flanders, Riverside, Northampton and other areas of Southampton Town into the First Legislative District, which takes in the Towns of Southold, Riverhead and portions of eastern Brookhaven.
The plan also changed the boundaries of other legislative districts across Suffolk County, including four districts where the new lines leave two sitting Republican legislators in the same districts, forcing a party primary, and creating two open seats.
The Democrats developed the plan without the establishment of the redistricting commission required by the county charter — and without the input of the Republican caucus.
McCaffrey and others sued to prevent the majority caucus from moving forward with the redistricting plan and won victories in the trial court that were immediately put on hold by Appellate Division judges. The most recent appellate court stay prevented enforcement of the Dec. 27 Farneti decision, which held that the legislature had no legal authority to independently adopt a plan until after the Feb. 1 deadline for the reapportionment commission to act. The stay allowed the Democratic majority to move ahead with adoption of the plan on its last day in power.
In remarks following his swearing-in as presiding officer, McCaffrey said he wants to see the legislature, where Republicans now have an 11-7 majority, work across party lines for the greater good.
“We may not have ended in a true bipartisan love fest at the end of the year, but I hope we can work together for the benefit of all the residents of Suffolk County,” McCaffrey said yesterday.
Correction Jan. 4, 2022 6 p.m.: A previous version of this article mistakenly referred to the Presiding Officer as Kevin McCarthy. His name is Kevin McCaffrey.
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