Last year, as a member of the Assembly majority, George Latimer voted in favor of an independent redistricting bill forwarded by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The constitutional amendment to create an independent redistricting panel to draw new legislative lines in 2022 passed both houses of the Legislature this month—and it’ll be on the ballot for voters in November.
Latimer, a Democrat from Rye, said his position on the issue changed because he had made more time to review the issue—not because of his move from the majority conference to the minority conference.
“I had a chance to look at the legislation much more carefully,” Latimer said yesterday. “My sense at the time it was offered as an improvement over the existing system that we have, and I vote for it with that thought in mind.”
The redistricting bill was approved in the dead of night in March 2011 as part of an agreement for a new pension tier.
Latimer said he has concerns about whether the new redistricting panel would, in fact, be independent. He also questioned the need to address the issue now—when there’s nearly a decade until district lines would need to be redrawn.
“If we’re going to look at a better system, we have time to create a better system,” he explained, adding that he voted for the redistricting bill last year, but also voted against the lines that the panel ultimately adopted.
Latimer won election to the Senate last November against Republican Bob Cohen, despite attempts by Republicans to draw the Senate lines in lower Westchester to benefit Cohen, who narrowly lost in 2010 to incumbent Democratic Suzi Oppenheimer.
Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, has supported the redistrictingamendment, while some other good-government groups have been critical of it. He said too often lawmakers support legislation when it suits the needs of the parties in power.
“Legislators’ views on redistricting reform often depend upon not where they stand on the issue, so much as where they sit in which house –- whether they are in the majority or the minority,” Dadey said.