The data thrown by the 2020 Census they are already having a broad impact on issues like redistricting in New York, as happened this year in the redefinition of voter boundaries at the state level, which ended up generating confusion and criticism before the primaries. These changes had an impact on the fight for seats in the Albany Legislature and the congress chairs.
And facing the 2023 municipal electionsthe commission in charge of drawing new political limits to the districts of the city Council is already putting pencil and metrics to the new models, but the initial sketches are already causing some worries.
This was evidenced in recent weeks, in the midst of the open process that closed on August 22 with a hearing to receive comments from the public, where communities and political leaders spoke about the lines proposed last July by the New York City District Commission.
The first to speak was the president of the Municipal Council, Adrianne Adams, who, after learning about the redesigned models, revealed several concerns, and clarified that the New York City District Commission is the entity that should listen to the comments of the communities, and then the legislative body will vote on the final redesign.
“The Council is deeply committed to maintaining the integrity of the New York City District Commission, and it is critical that an independent process be allowed to move forward subject to the guidelines and protections set forth in the Charter. There are important fundamental principles that should be prioritized in this processbut the first set of preliminary maps appears to violate them and does not guarantee the adequate representation of certain groups of New Yorkers”, assured the political leader.
In particular, the President of the Council he noted that maintaining three districts that remain full on Staten Island is inconsistent with population changes and creates a problem of maldistribution, forcing unreasonable changes to districts in other counties.
“This appears to be a driving factor in the Commission’s preliminary district boundaries that undermine protections for historically marginalized communities of color and to communities of interest, as provided by the Voting Rights Act and the New York City Charter,” added Adams.
“In particular, preliminary maps historically divide Latino communities in Sunset Park and Red Hook, diluting their voices in various districts. Communities of interest in South Brooklyn that have historically held together would be separated. The Filipino and Tibetan communities in western Queens would also be divided into multiple districts.”
In her analysis, the head of the municipal legislative body warned that it is essential that the new district lines of the city Council keep communities together and uphold the principles that were established to protect and empower historically marginalized communities of color.
Critics of the first sketch they further warn that in southeastern Queens, preliminary maps threaten to significantly dilute the impact of black voters by leaving them in a new district as a minority
The Ombudsman, Jumaane Williams He has also raised his voice, raising concerns about the preliminary redesigns that would affect some communities over the next 10 years, for which he asked the Commission in charge to draw lines that guarantee fair and accurate representation for all New Yorkers.
Williams mentioned particular concern about the coastal communities from Red Hook to Coney Island, that have been substantially reconfigured, while noting that several Manhattan neighborhoods have been integrated into one district that primarily serves Queens.
He also noted that the new maps leave several blocks in Harlem in the Council district Municipality of East Harlemseparating them from the rest of the black community, and warned that Staten Island should not remain untouched, despite the demographic disparity.
“If no changes are considered in these districts, then the Commission would be dividing the communities of interest,” said the Ombudsman. “We have a once-in-a-decade opportunity to draw lines. We must use it to ensure fair and accurate representation for all New Yorkers. This should also prioritize people who have experienced the greatest marginalization from this process in the past.”
asher rosssenior strategist New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC)assured that although in the first round of maps proposed by the New York City District Commission for the City Council there are “great achievements for Latino representation” in New York City, particularly in the potential creation of a District 11, majority Latino in the Bronx, there are concerns that need to be addressed.
“The new proposed district lines would divide the historically connected Latino communities of Red Hook and Sunset Park, formerly connected in Council District 38, which have benefited from strong Latino representation in the past,” Ross said. “This change would eliminate District 38 as a plural minority district and would instead divide Latinos into two districts with large white pluralities.”
The strategist added that other Latino communities that would be divided under the proposed district lines include Woodside, which is divided by the proposed 26th District, and Ridgewood, which would be divided at the intersection of Proposed Districts 32, 34 and 37.
“These maps are not yet final, and the New York Immigration Coalition will continue to mobilize with our member organizations. and communities to ensure immigrant voices are heard and recognized in the New York City District Commission review process,” Ross said.
Theo Oshirouco-executive director of Make the Road NY, He highlighted the urgency for the redistricting process to ensure that communities receive adequate resources and representation, calling for it to be conducted in a manner that is transparent, fair, and reflective of geographic realities.
“We urge this body to ensure that people of color are represented in the process by respecting one person, one vote; refrain from drawing abusive lines, especially ‘cracking’ and ‘bundling, respect political subdivisions and communities of interest, especially for underrepresented immigrant, black, and latino communities; ensure compactness and contiguity and prioritize citizen participation and transparency”, assured the activist.
“Immigrant communities and communities of color in Queens need to stick together where possible. For example, given its large immigrant population, we believe that the core of Woodside should be kept within a district made up largely of immigrants and people of color,” Oshiro said. “Second, we believe District 26 should remain a Queens district.given the significant population growth in Queens and the differences between the current and proposed district in areas of Manhattan.”
The activist also shared his opposition to Staten Island districts being left untouched, when population growth is slow there.
“While we have thousands of members on Staten Island and they think it’s important that they be well represented, we don’t think it makes sense for Staten Island. The insular districts will have smaller populations than other parts of New York City, particularly when it comes at the expense of Latino and immigrant populations in other parts of the city (such as Sunset Park),” added the immigrant community advocate. “We urge the Commission to reconsider its decision in this regard. We urge you to take seriously the input of community members and organizations, especially those in historically underrepresented communities.”
Rosalva Almazan, member of Make the Road NYcalled on the Redesign Commission not to ignore the voices that the communities have raised.
“I have lived in Queens for two decades and am proud to call Woodside home. I am a mother and a small businesswoman. I run my own beauty salon and am active in my community. As this commission considers new districts in Queens, it is very important that the voices of immigrant communities and communities of color are heard, and that we have the representation that we deserve,” said the Latina mother at the hearing on the issue in Harlem. “Immigrant communities and communities of color in Queens should stick together whenever possible. For example, my community of Woodside has long been a place where immigrants like me come and settle. I think Woodside should stay largely within a district made up mostly of immigrants and people of color.”
Redistricting Facts for 2023
- The District Commission of the City of New York is the entity in charge of redrawing the electoral maps
- 15 members of the board are the ones who draw the new districts for the 51 future members of the Council
- The goal of the redesign is to reflect the latest population data collected during the 2020 Census.
- The population of New York City increased by more than 600,000 people in the last 10 years
- The population of Asian New Yorkers 7.7% since 2010
- The Latino population increased 6.6% in the last decade
- Black population decreased 4.5% since 2010
- One necessity of redistricting is to ensure fair representation of racial groups, keep neighborhoods and communities intact
- Ideally, each Council district would include about 172,000 people
- The difference between the least and most populated districts cannot be more than 5%
- The new map proposes changing boundaries in several districts such as creating a new seat in South Brooklyn that would empower the Asian population in the area.
- Staten Island’s three seats planned to remain largely unchanged, despite low demographics
- August 22 closed the period to receive public comments on the initial sketches
- September 22 is the deadline for the Commission to present the final map to the City Council
- Then the legislative body must approve it to be used for the municipal elections of 2023
- Maps must be submitted to the City by February 7, 2023, when they will go into effect
Concerns about the lines demarcated in the first sketches
- Critics say that in Brooklyn, coastal communities from Red Hook south to Coney Island would be highly affected, so it is suggested to keep those communities intact.
- In Queens, the 26th Ward is crossing the East River into Manhattan and removing Roosevelt Island along with several dozen square blocks up to First Avenue from a Manhattan borough and transferring them to the borough of Queens.
- In the Harlem community of Manhattan, there are several blocks that are being removed from District 9 and transferred to District 8 of East Harlem) affecting the power of black communities, so they ask that they remain intact within the district of Harlem
- Staten Island stays intact in the redesigns, which isn’t fair, since the population growth is -4%.
- In Brooklyn, a Bensonhurst district with a majority AAPI community is advocated.
- Brooklyn’s 45th Ward would now include 50 to 75 square blocks of the 44th Ward, when some of those blocks are claimed to belong to communities of interest