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Letter to the Editor: Statewide Redistricting Plan Needs to be Changed

Letter to the Editor from the League of Women Voters of New Rochelle.

 

LWV of New Rochelle Statement on the Gerrymandering of New Rochelle

After every 10 year census, lines determining the districts in which citizens vote for local, state and Congressional delegates are drawn by a process usually controlled by the party in power for each legislative body. This assures that the party in power protects its incumbents by drawing the lines around voters registered for that party, and assures that as many districts as possible can be drawn to protect that party’s majority.

They must assume that no one is paying any attention, particularly in New Rochelle. If one looks at the lines within the city, available on the web at www.latfor.state.ny.us/maps, you can understand the term gerrymander, named after a politician whose district, carved out to assure his reelection, resembled a salamander.

It appears that New Rochelle’s Senate district lines were openly drawn to move a Republican majority into District 37 (D-Oppenheimer) and a Democratic majority into District 35 (Stewart-Cousins). A narrow passage of District 35 goes into New Rochelle at the Scarsdale border, balloons into a structure resembling the face of a dog, then, at the center of the city, narrows into a passage leading into an erratically shaped inkblot that seems to take in the city’s minority population. A long, narrow strip of District 37 along the Pelham border connects western sections of Yonkers, Eastchester and a chunk of New Rochelle to a U shaped southern section of New Rochelle and goes north up the eastern section of the county

The LWV of Westchester has analyzed a countywide pattern of gerrymandered lines, which puts Ossining the lone Westchester community in a Rockland County District. The League of Women Voters of New York State with a coalition of public interest groups, and many others have argued for an independent commission to redistrict. The Governor has threatened to veto the proposed statewide redistricting plan.

This kind of gerrymandering leads to noncompetitive races and, many believe more polarized government. We urge citizens, and the City Council , to pay attention and demand a straightforward redistricting by an independent nonpartisan commission from state officials and to ask the Governor to veto the present senate lines.

Ina Aronow, Communications Chair

Cindy Kahn, President

League of Women Voters of New Rochelle

Stuy Guy February 22, 2012 at 06:11 AM
Let's give credit where it is due: it is Jim Masano, our County Legislator, who is also on the payroll of the State Senate Republicans, who personally crafted these Senate lines in New Rochelle, expertly darting in and around every conceivable Republican, to help elect Bob Cohen. And I hear him on WVOX every Tuesday, hyping Bob's candidacy. Well done, James, well done!
Stuy Guy February 22, 2012 at 06:17 AM
Yes, the 40% of New Rochelle, Republicans, (aka "an honest group of citizens") should have been happy about the GOP's City Council plan that would have had them running the City, leaving the 60% majority of voters stuck. That's what they did for 12 years, with Ron Tocci raising up the minority in the South End to supremacy with a tax cap to stick it to the majority of NR voters. The majority of NR voters have voted DEMOCRAT for the last 20 years. That's hard to accept for newrochellesouth, but that is the fact.
newrochellesouth February 22, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Stuy Guy, I was not referencing the Republican Plan to redistrict the city council, I was referencing the plan that was created by a Citizen's Committee made up of people from both parties, independents, men, women, north enders, south enders, members of the NAACP, and others. This Committee did not use Party registration data to redistrict the city as the others did, they used Census data and each individuals knowledge of the City Neighborhoods. Not everything in life has to be done on purely partisan lines. They received ZERO help from any group on the City Council, Democrat or Republican. Your complaints about the State redistricitng are not consistent with your support for the current City redistricting. In one you celebrate partsian gerrymandering (the City) and the other you condemn for the same reason. At least you can become a cynic like me and realize that all politicians work not for their constituents, but for themselves, then thier party, then their constitiuents last. This is particularly true the longer they stay in office.
Billy February 22, 2012 at 08:35 PM
I could care less about all this gerrymandering talk. Bramson gerrymandered the NR lines and now its payback time so what's the problem? The LWV is just waking up this fact? Where were they back in April? Hypocrisy at its best. Its just politics as usual and we really want/need Bob Cohen to win and keep the NYS Senate in the hands of the Republicans. I'm happy to move to the 35th SD along with all of New Rochelle's housing projects if that's what it takes. Without the Republicans in control of the Senate, there's no check and balances to our state government and that lack of balance has been disastrous for New Rochelle.
Ina Aronow February 29, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Just to keep the record straight, the League of Women Voters is a non partisan public interest organization whose purpose is to promote the informed participation of citizens in government. Our membership is open to all citizens, and includes both Democrats and Republicans. We urge citizens who are interested in the redistricting process to look at the proposed maps at the link above and judge for themselves. Ina Aronow

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