The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

Four candidates challenging Hayworth,
but district remains uncertain

By DON HEPPNER AND R.J. MARX

The Democratic primary for New York’s 19th Congressional District has been heating up lately with the entrance of four candidates. Dr. Richard Becker of Cortlandt is joined by Mayor Tom Wilson of Tuxedo Park; Duane Johnson, a vendor who helped thwart a terrorist’s bombing attempt in Times Square; and Anne Jacobs Moultrie, a registered nurse and union leader from Woodbury. 

‘What this delaying does is disenfranchise our military and our overseas voters.’

— Barbara Bartoletti, League of Women Voters

But deciding who will be the nominee is hard to gauge, with state redistricting incomplete and the future of the 19th District in question. The congressional petitioning process begins on March 20, with a June 26 primary date, and there are fears for delay.

On Monday, Federal Court Judge Dora Irizarry ordered the creation of a “special master” and asked the state to create a three-judge panel to oversee the redistricting process. “No congressional lines have been proposed through New York’s legislative process, much less adopted even though the petitioning process is less than six weeks away,” wrote Judge Irizarry.

As of now, the primaries for state Senate and Assembly are not scheduled until September.

“What this delaying does is disenfranchise our military and our overseas voters,” Barbara Bartoletti, legislative director of the League of Women Voters of New York State, said last Monday. “That should make every American citizen’s blood boil.”

The redistricting task force, known by the acronym LATFOR, has drawn lines that have been described as “egregious” by Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and others.

Yesterday, LATFOR held the last of seven statewide second-round hearings in Buffalo. LATFOR has presented new lines for state Assembly and Senate districts, although Governor Cuomo has stated that he intends to veto them.

“The concept of community of interest was clearly abandoned in dividing these municipalities,” Carolyn Stevens of the League of Women Voters at the Manhattan hearings. “The public wants and deserves an independent commission to draw the state Legislative and Congressional districts according to fair and objective criteria with meaningful public input.”

The 19th Congressional District currently covers northern Westchester, Putnam, southern Dutchess, and parts of Orange and Rockland counties.

Since the congressional district lines have not been drawn, required petitions cannot be signed by prospective voters and the current politicking could be wasted, making it unlikely that a June primary date could be met.

Ms. Bartoletti said that the young men and women are on the front line in Afghanistan, defending democracy, but they will not be able to vote to select a congressional candidate.

Ms. Hayworth said last week  that she is not concerned at this point in the election process about the redistricting process or a late primary, according to her communications director, Terence Michos. “The congresswoman is focused on representing the constituents of the 19th District as it is currently composed, and she will continue do to that until this congressional term ends,” Mr. Michos said. “When the new maps come out, that will be something for the campaign to assess and deal with. We cannot speak to any delays because we’re simply not involved in this process. This is something that the New York State Legislature must deal with.”

“We have two concerns,” Ms. Bartoletti said. “We are asking the governor to veto these egregious state Senate lines. The Assembly lines weren’t as egregious, but the only reason they are not as egregious is that the Democratic-led Assembly doesn’t have to worry about control of the Assembly.”

The procedure is further complicated by lawsuits that have been recently initiated. New York State Senator Martin Dilan, the Brooklyn Democrat on the redistricting committee, filed last week against the Senate’s plan to add a 63rd seat to the chamber. The lawsuit states that to add another Senate seat is unconstitutional because LATFOR failed to apply the proper formula developed to add a seat and the effort was not done “rationally, or in good faith.”

A federal judge has ordered the congressional primary be held in June, but the congressional lines have not been established. “Therefore candidates will not know what districts they are going to run in,” Ms. Bartoletti said. “We think there might be a veiled but concerted effort to drag their feet on congressional lines so as to make a June primary impossible.”

She said that LATFOR has all the computer software necessary to produce congressional lines, but have failed to do so. “If a June primary is impossible, LATFOR would be taken off the hook and the need for them to come to a conclusion would go away,” Ms. Bartoletti said.

As the primary situation stands now, there could be three different primary dates: a New York State legislative primary, a congressional primary and a Republican presidential primary, which has been set for April.

This will mean the counties and municipalities will be required to come up the funds to pay for the primaries.

“In Rockland County, each primary would cost $400,000, and that means $400,000 extra to do a third primary,” Ms. Bartoletti said. “Not doing a June primary would be just fine with all these legislators, but there is a federal law that requires a June primary for federal elections.”

She said that there should only be two primaries in the state. The first should take place in April dedicated to the presidential primary, and the June primary, which was set by a federal judge to come into compliance with laws written to protect the rights of overseas voters.

Also included in the June primary would be the state legislative offices, but the New York State primaries could not be held in June if lines were not drawn in time.

“My guess is that they will settle on a July date, which of course is in the middle of summer and probably would mean a low voter turnout,” Ms. Bartoletti said. “It is unbelievable, but that is how New York politics works.”

“The governor has to stand firm and apply the checks and balances,” New York State Senator Greg Ball said about the “egregious” lines.

“Unfortunately, without an independent commission, we’re letting the fox guard the henhouse,” Dr. Richard Becker, candidate for congress in the 19th District, said. “Politicians left to their own devices will slice up the state in their own best interests — not in the interests of the people. You have a perfect example right here in the 19th. The Hudson Valley is a clearly discernible region in New York with many common interests that deserves it’s own representative.”

He said that since Congressman Maurice Hinchey, representing the 22nd District, announced his retirement, the redistricting commission is politically free to do as it pleases in this part of the state.

“The people in the Hudson Valley deserve better than to be treated like a jigsaw puzzle,” Mr. Becker said.

The uncertainty of political lines is a concern for local political committees. The Pound Ridge Town Democratic Committee is scheduled to announce its endorsement after Feb. 13. 

“Because of the uncertainty of the final district lines, we could be interviewing candidates we don’t have to interview, and we could be not interviewing candidates we should be interviewing,” Democratic town committee chairwoman Roslyn Stone-Pollock said.


Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.


 

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The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

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Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    


Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    


Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


Katonah

  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Perks – 197 Katonah Avenue    

  4. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center;
    294 Katonah Avenue   

  5. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center;
    280 Katonah Avenue    

  6. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road


Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    

  2. Connie’s at Northern Westchester Hospital
    400 E. Main Street    


South Salem/Vista

  1. JNR Pharmacy – 222 Oakridge Commons;
    Route 123   


Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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FEBRUARY 17, 2012