Every so often in politics, a legislative body comes together and passes a good government reform – something that places the voters’ interest ahead of political gain.

This happened in 2009, when the Dutchess County Legislature’s Democrats were joined by a Conservative and three Republicans in passing a law that created independent redistricting procedures for Dutchess County. It allowed for a citizens’ committee to create county legislative districts, with equal representation from both parties: enter fairness, exit self-interest and cynicism.

Sadly, at the December 7 meeting of the legislature, the Republican supermajority repealed this law. That this vote was only added to the agenda at 1:30 a.m. as the meeting stretched into its seventh hour is equally disturbing.

The Republicans seek to return our county to the old way of doing business, in which the majority carves out safe seats to ensure they continue to win elections with ease. Such a unilateral power grab gives pause: what are the Republicans so worried about that they need to draw their own districts?

I would rather see voters choose their legislators, not the other way around – and let the chips fall where they may.

I find it odd that my state legislators – Assemblyman Molinaro and Senator Saland – have been silent on their party’s actions in their home county. After all, both signed Ed Koch’s NY Uprising pledge, which called for independent redistricting at the state level. Surely they must agree that a fair redistricting process is needed at all levels of government.

Brian Kelly
Red Hook