Statement of Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. on Assembly Redistricting

“Every ten years, after the completion of the U.S Census, every state is constitutionally required to redraw the districts that each member of Congress and the State Legislature represent in order to better reflect the needs and interests of an ever-changing population. Each of these districts must also be of a substantially equal population to ensure that every person’s voice can be heard and considered by their respective elected representatives. In 2022, that means that each Assembly District should have approximately 134,675 residents. Other factors to be considered in redistricting include making districts as contiguous as possible and as compact as possible. Finally, districts should combine “communities of interest” wherever possible.

This past week, Governor Kathy Hochul approved the new district maps, which were created by the Legislature after the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) failed to produce a singular proposal and uphold their constitutional duty. I have reviewed the lines of the new 1st Assembly District and I am pleased to see that the character and heritage of the East End will be represented in the State Assembly. Since New York State last went through the redistricting process, the 1st Assembly District has been the second fastest growing Assembly District in the State. This is a true testament to the abundant opportunities and high quality of life offered in the many towns and villages I serve.

The population of my current Assembly District has grown to 151,223 residents. There are nearly 17,000 more residents than are permitted for a proportional and constitutional Assembly District. In short, my district had to lose population under redistricting, and as such, the communities that now fall within my district have changed.

The new Assembly District continues to include the Towns of East Hampton and Shelter Island and the Moriches in the Town of Brookhaven. The new district still includes the Town of Southampton with the exception of the hamlets of Riverside and Northampton. The entire Town of Southold will be a part of the 1st Assembly District for the first time. 

I am pleased to represent the Town of Southold. Southold is part of that “community of interest” that I have always thought should be Peconic County, the five East End towns of Suffolk County. 71% of East End residents voted for Peconic County in 1995 only to have the creation of the new county blocked by then Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. 

Southold is also part of the Peconic Bay Region Community Preservation Fund Law, the Peconic Estuary Program, as well as the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association. I have always worked closely with my colleagues in Southold and collaborated on behavioral health initiatives in our schools that have been successful. Southold is also part of the same State Senate and Congressional District as the South Fork and Shelter Island.

While every town is different and unique, there is no doubt that Southold, together with Shelter Island, East Hampton, and Southampton, collectively share an East End heritage based on our mutual agricultural and maritime traditions. We also share a passion for protecting the community character that together makes us so different from the rest of Long Island.

I have enjoyed representing parts of Manorville and the Tri-Hamlet area (Shirley, Mastic Beach, and Mastic) in the New York State Assembly. I lament that the changes in demographics and population required my district to become smaller, resulting in these areas no longer being part of my district. However, I am pleased that all of Manorville will now be united in the 2nd Assembly District, and all of the Tri-Hamlet area will be united in the 3rd Assembly District.

Finally, in my opinion, separating Riverside and Northampton in the Town of Southampton from my district was a mistake. All of Southampton Town should have remained together. I recognize that this area is part of the Riverhead School District, the Riverhead postal district, and is closest to downtown Riverhead. That is also a community of interest.

However, after representing that area in the County Legislature, as Town Supervisor, and in Albany, it is still difficult for me to accept that Riverside and Northampton will not be part of my district. I understand that the overarching need to create 150 districts of equal population sometimes makes imperfect results. After assessing all of these factors, I voted in favor of the legislation establishing the new redistricting plan for the State Legislature.

Certainly, change is inevitable when redistricting occurs. I will have fond memories of all the folks I have worked with through the years that I will no longer have the privilege of representing. I look forward to working for my new constituents in Southold, many of whom I know already from our regional endeavors to preserve and protect the East End.

The fact is that regardless of district boundaries, East End state legislators have always approached our jobs as if we collectively work for the entire East End region. State Senator Tony Palumbo, State Assembly Member Jodi Giglio, and I have continued that tradition and will continue to do so into the future.

Finally, I am wholly disheartened by the lack of productive outcome from the Independent Redistricting Commission. In 2014, this Commission was given a constitutional obligation by the voters of the State of New York to deliver a fair and informed redistricting proposal to the Legislature. In the end, no singular proposal was ever delivered due to partisan squabbling and the duty fell back onto the Legislature as it has in decades prior. It goes without saying that in the future the redistricting process requires further reform and accountability. I am committed to creating a true independent process in the future.”