2016-09-29 / Front Page

Babylon Town Clerk throws out petititons for councilmatic district

She denies them on the basis of form
By Carolyn James

Babylon Town Clerk Carol Quirk ruled last week that the petitions filed by the Republicans calling for a referendum on November’s ballot to establish council districts in the Town were invalid on their form.

That decision places the question back into the hands of the Republicans and Babylon Town Republican Chair Anthony Pancella said today that the issue is not dead, just postponed.

“We are still weighing our options, I but will say it is an initiative that needs to be happen and go before the people, if not this time then at some time in the near future.”

Pancella said that 2,500 residents of Babylon signed the petition calling for the referendum.

“They knew what it was about and wanted to see it on the ballot,” he said.   “A lot of people got out and worked hard to gather those petitions and it is going to come up again.”

Currently the Town Supervisor and Town Council are elected by all of the people in the Town. Under councilmatic districts, the council members would represent separate districts within the Town, and be elected by those within the district only, similar to state Assembly districts, though each town district would be much smaller.

Babylon Town Supervisor Richard Schaffer and the Democrats opposed the measure saying it would pit one community against the other and result in less representation, not more.

They moved quickly last week to ensure that had the measure passed that the district lines would be drawn by the Town Board, not the Board of Elections, which would have been the case had not the Town had that responsibility under Town Code.

Heading up the councilmatic district initiative for the GOP were Nick LaLota, a Trustee in the Village of Amityville and a Commissioner in the Suffolk County Board of Elections and S.C. Leg. Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst.)

 McCaffrey said the change would provide better government.

“Local representation is better representation,” he said. “When council members have smaller areas to focus on, it lends itself to better constituent service.”

 “We have spent years building Babylon as one unit,” said Schaffer. “What we don’t want is Councilmatic district where communities are split up and have to fight for resources.”

LaLota said it came as no surprise to him that Quirk rejected the petitions. “I am sure she (Quirk, a Democrat) was acting in response to the Democratic committee,” he said.

Schaffer had his own response for LaLota: “He should call it what it is,” he said. “Nothing more than a naked political grab.”

The Democrats challenged the petitions on the basis of the signatures, saying  they described “fraudulent” signatures. They filed preliminary objections and were awaiting the outcome of Quirk’s review to decide if they were going to proceed in State Supreme Court. 

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