POUGHKEEPSIE- Members of the original Dutchess County Independent Reapportionment Commission that was disbanded due to an alleged illegal appointment, are seeking to have a Supreme Court justice overturn the ruling of the Dutchess County Attorney’s Office and the majority of the Dutchess County Legislature.
John Pelosi, a member of the disbanded commission announced the lawsuit. “The people of Dutchess County need to be aware of this suit, the outrageous actions of the legislature, and its implications for undermining local voting rights.” Supreme Court Justice Hal Greenwald will be hearing arguments from the parties on August 31, in a virtual court appearance.
When asked about the new litigation, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro told Mid Hudson News “I can’t speak to litigation… But, some seem more interested in preserving their own appointment than ensuring a truly independent redistricting process. I campaigned on and advocated for independent redistricting, and, we will have truly independent redistricting in this County.”
Pelosi’s fellow plaintiffs are also members of the disbanded commission, including Hance Huston, Christina Van Horn, Bryan Faubus, and Whitney Lundy. Lundy had established a GoFundMe page to pay for legal fees associated with this lawsuit.
It was created after the original commission was disbanded and the legislature took action to create a new commission. The crowdsourcing fundraiser drew sharp criticism from attorneys on the county payroll, who demanded that Lundy cease and desist, a demand that was ignored.
Pelosi railed against the actions of the chief assistant county attorney that was advising the commission, Chris Cullen, and the Republican Majority of the county legislature, with Donna Bolner, as the majority leader.
“Not only has the legislature ‘disbanded’ the current Commission— thwarting its steady and quantifiable progress and work on behalf of the people of Dutchess County – but it has also declared in a brazen manner that all current members are ‘disqualified’ from serving on the Commission in the future,” said Pelosi.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro signed legislation approved by the legislature on July 29, creating a new Independent Reapportionment Committee tasked with drawing new legislative districts based on 2020 US Census data.
In signing the legislation creating the new committee, Molinaro, who touted a redistricting plan during his run for office years ago, told lawmakers, “These districts must be drawn irrespective of your interests or mine,” adding “If you believe, as I do, that district lines should be drawn by an independent body of eligible residents, not engaged in political activity, untethered from partisan influence, disengaged from fundraising and political activity, free from potential public pressures, then it is time for the Legislature to again move forward with an untainted process.”