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