Villages trade legislators
After a number of revisions, the maps laying out the new districts for the Orange County Legislature have been finalized, shifting many neighborhoods into new districts.
“I think a third-grader could have done a better job,” said Orange County Legislator L. Stephen Brescia.
For Brescia, who serves the 9th District, the new maps mean the Village of Walden—which he has represented for nearly 20 years—is now part of another district, and for the first time he will representing the Village of Maybrook, as well as residents in the southeastern portion of the Town of Wallkill.
Brescia said that while he is ready to move forward, he feels that the Orange County Planning Department did a “poor job” and that the process was “political.”
“It’s a shame,” said Brescia, speaking of major shifts and odd groupings. “They moved too many districts around, with no consideration of how they were before. This is just all over the place.”
Brescia expressed concern that the new districts would make it harder on legislators to effectively represent their districts as some are too diverse or too spread out. On a positive note however, he pointed out that a couple towns, like Chester, were brought together into a single district.
While disappointed in the new district map, Brescia said he is looking forward to meeting the new people in his district and eager to learn their concerns.
This fall, Brescia will face off against Democratic candidate Susan Cockburn. Meanwhile, in the neighboring 17th District, fellow Republican Orange County Legislator Mike Anagnostakis is running unopposed for re-election.
His district has also changed, as he loses the Village of Maybrook and a portion of the Town of Montgomery, and takes on the Village of Walden from Brescia. The district also includes the westernmost third of the Town of Newburgh, as well as most of the eastern half of the Town of Montgomery.
“On the one hand, I’m saddened by the loss of all the great people I got to know over the last four years,” said Anagnostakis. “But I’m excited to get to know the 7,000 residents of Walden and represent them the best I can.”
Anagnostakis said he was sure that all of the residents in his former district knew his positions on the issues and that he represented their values and what they wanted. Although he is running unopposed, he said he plans to campaign just as hard as if he had opposition, knocking on doors throughout his district and especially in Walden.
“I think he’ll represent the village very well in the county legislature,” said Walden Mayor Brian Maher, stating that whether or not the two of them agree on different issues, he believes the legislator will work hard, noting he has already promised to do his best to meet every single Walden resident.
Moving forward, Anagnostakis believes that residents in his district—including its newest members—have the same concerns when it comes to the county government, namely what to do about the government center and Valley View nursing home.
Jonathan Jacobson, chairman of the Orange County Democratic Committee, agreed, commenting that as elections approach, those issues and the differences between the parties are “quite clear.” He spoke highly of Orange County Legislator Roseanne Sullivan, who represents the 18th District, saying that she has “stood firm” on her stances on the two issues.
Sullivan’s district has not escaped the changes either, taking on a piece of Crawford from Brescia, which means that she now serves as legislator for the entire town of Crawford.
Despite injuries sustained in a recent motor vehicle accident, Sullivan has committed to running for re-election. Her former opponent, R.J. Smith, stated Monday that he does not intend to run for the seat.
By RACHEL COLEMAN