Advocates collected a pro-councilmanic district petition with nearly 4,000 signatures, which was tried in the past only to be thwarted by opponents in court prior to a vote. Before voting to approve the election date, Councilman Mark Cuthbertson accused the petitioners of “gaming the system” by intentionally filing the petitions on Oct. 20, which the town said was too late for the proposal to make it on the ballot for Election Day.
“We believe the optimal time for this vote is the general election, when people are used to going to the polls,” Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone and the council members wrote in an Oct. 27 letter to Concerned Citizens of Huntington, who organized the petition. The town suggested putting the issue to vote in November 2010, but the advocates counter that would mean starting the entire petition-gathering process over again and that the town could have put it on the Nov. 3 ballot if they really wanted to.
“We say no to that, we want to vote now,” says Mark X. Cronin, co-coordinator for the pro-districting organization, describing the reaction he’s gotten from the town board as “madness.” He adds that the reason that the group filed the petitions when they did is because the volunteers who had gathered the signatures hadn’t turned in their paperwork right away and the group wanted to ensure they had more than the minimum amount of signers to survive the inevitable legal challenges.
Cronin believes that making council members responsible for their own segment of the township—as is done in the towns of Hempstead, North Hempstead, Brookhaven and Southold—would create more accountable local government.
Now it’s up to Huntington voters, who should ready for a second trip to the polls in a little more than six weeks.