In 2009, the Dutchess County Legislature, led by Democrats with bipartisan support, passed a law creating an independent redistricting process. There would have been equal representation from both parties, inherently promoting compromise.

Instead of embracing this nonpartisan effort, on Dec. 7 the Republican supermajority repealed independent redistricting, moving us backward into an era of partisan gerrymandering. Even worse, they did so after the issue was tabled in committee, meaning that it was never on the agenda. Voters had no notice that it would come to a final vote that evening.

When I tried to speak on the topic at 7 p.m., I was forced off the podium, because I was only allowed to speak to agenda items. At 1:30 a.m., it was added on to the agenda anyway. Only then was I allowed to comment, having waited over six hours and into the middle of the night.

Voters have a right to choose their legislators — legislators do not have a right to choose their voters.

I was especially disappointed that my own legislator, Ben Traudt, R-Red Hook, was one of those voting to give himself unilateral power in the dead of night. Fair representation shouldn’t be a political issue, and it shouldn’t be controlled by one party.

Common sense tells us that politicians do not hand themselves unilateral power at 1:30 a.m. because they are acting in the public’s best interest. This is a blatant power grab so that the majority party can ensure their own re-election in November.

Patrick Kelly
Red Hook