of the basic principles of representative democracy is that the
closer our elected officials are to their constituents, the better
those constituents will be served. The Neighborhood Network has
been working to bring town council members on Long Island closer
to the people they represent. Our primary focus in town government
reform has been in promoting the system of council
districts, in which each board member is elected from a specific
district in which he or she lives.
Due to the successful advocacy of concerned citizens
and the thousands of Islip voters who signed petitions, the Islip
Town Board approved a referendum for the ward system (council
districts) for this Election Day (November 7, 2006). Unfortunately,
a vote-no mailing, which contained no information on who was sending
it, reached voters homes the weekend before election day with
a dishonest claim that council districts would cost tax-payers
millions of dollars. The coalition working for reform had no time
to respond to this disinformation, and the referendum was defeated.
Neighborhood Network working with local citizen organizations
conducted two petition drives, which gathered a total of 7,788
signatures to place the referendum on the ballot. Click
here for more details about the petition effort, and the voter
Voters in the Town of North Hempstead approved council districts
in a special election held on April 29, 2003. The Neighborhood
Network urged its members and all North Hempstead residents to
vote "Yes" and distributed informational flyers in that
town explaining the benefits of council districts.
The Neighborhood Network, in partnership with a local Brookhaven
civic organization, helped to organize a campaign to change an
"at-large" system of electing Town Board members to
one of council districts. Together, the two groups collected more
than 20,000 signatures to put the question on a referendum. After
considerable legal wrangling on the part of the Town Board, the
residents of the town were given the opportunity to vote on this
important reform, and chose to adopt
Currently we are working with a coalition of civic activists and
community leaders in the Town of East Hampton to put the question
of adopting council districts before the voters in that town.
If you are registered to vote in East Hampton Township, find
out how you can help.
are also underway the Towns of Babylon and Huntington.