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Is Redistricting Robocall to Five Towners Racist?

Republicans say so, but Democrats say call focuses on sense of community.

Update: This story was updated with a comment from Legislator Howard Kopel.

Another over the of the Five Towns has popped up — but this time it’s about a robocall that Nassau Democrats made to some Five Towns residents.

“Does he think that Woodmere has more in common with Elmont, than with Lawrence and the Hewletts,” the caller asks, referring to Seventh District Legislator Howard Kopel, a Republican. The caller then urges residents to call Kopel and tell him “it’s unacceptable to tear up the Five Towns for political gain.”

Matt Coleman, a spokesman for the Kopel campaign, said both the voice used in the call and the sentiment of it rubs him the wrong way.

"It's shocking that the Nassau County Democrats would send out such a racially divisive and inflammatory call like this throughout the Five Towns,” he said. “I didn't think it was possible for Democrat Chairman Jay Jacobs and his handpicked candidates to stoop so low, so fast. Gutter politics at its finest.”

But Audrey Kubetin, communications director for the Nassau County Democratic Committee, said she doesn’t understand why Republicans are saying the call is racist.

“Inwood, Lawrence, Cedarhurst, Woodmere and the Hewletts have been known as the Five Towns for almost 100 years, but they share more than a name,” she said. “They share a common history, they share schools, and until now, they've shared a county legislator. The Republican redistricting plan would spit up this close-knit community. That's what the robocall was about.”

She added, “The Republicans are saying it's racist because they want to distract from how slipshod and thoughtless their redistricting plan is.”

Kopel said he found the Democratic comments "puzzling." "The Five Towns has two town councilmen, two school districts, a bunch of villages, etc. Somehow all of this does not seem to change the character or unity of the Five Towns," he said. "I am at a loss to understand why some people think that two county legislators will be such a terrible thing. What, exactly, do they think will be the problem created by this?"

"Even if there is redistricting (and by law there has to be redistricting because of population shifts, whether this year, or next), I will continue to live in the Five Towns, to be cognizant of its interests and to help people whenever I can," he said, "regardless of whether they live on this block or that one."

Matt Coleman May 05, 2011 at 01:51 AM
I wonder if Ms. Kubetin, the spokesperson for the Nassau Democrats, can explain why Boss Jacobs and her Party had no problem redistricting other areas like Freeport, Valley Stream, and Hempstead Villages ten years ago. Hypocritical to say the least; our neighbors see through this charade. The Nassau Democrat Machine is again still out only for themselves.
melissa gates May 05, 2011 at 01:50 PM
I am "puzzled" that Kopel would find that call (which I did not hear firsthand) racist. Is he not aware of the current demographics of his own district? I believe much of Lawrence and Inwood have the same demographic as Elmont. This is not a racist statement...it is a fact. This is not about race. It is about political gain. The bottom line is that the 5 towns should not be split. We are a community and should not be divided. And he should be fighting for his community, fighting for his current constituents, and not fighting to strengthen his own political position.
Stephen J. Bronner May 05, 2011 at 02:32 PM
To listen to the call, click the picture box that has the NCDC logo up above and press the play button.
annette turner May 05, 2011 at 04:57 PM
Although not an official 5 Towns resident, I have lived in the community for 25 years. By splitting up the towns, you are in a sense splitting up an iconic title of a vibrant community. We have schools & business going by the title "5 Towns"; does that mean that they will have to change their names?
Jill Roth May 06, 2011 at 12:26 PM
If redistricting the 5 towns is so important because of population shifts, why haven't they considered splitting Atlantic Beach from the district and merging those students into the long beach school district? Has this even been considered?
melissa gates May 06, 2011 at 01:20 PM
This is for your Nassau County legislature not the school district. These are two very different things. The word "district" is what made it confusing but this issue has nothing to do with the schools. :)

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