The City: Albany Democrats Seize Control of Redistricting, With Unclear Role for Public
By Clifford Michel and Farah Javed/The City
After years of championing an “independent” commission to control the crucial redrawing of congressional and legislative districts, Democratic state leaders are taking over the process.
A wide coalition of advocates is demanding public hearings before Albany acts.
Several groups are pushing to give feedback on the new lines and also want lawmakers to adopt a “unity map” that advocates crafted to keep minority groups together in districts where they can amass votes and political power.
“These are Latino, Black and Asian community members that are usually left out of that redistricting conversation, and end up in electoral districts where they don’t have a say in who is their elected official,” Fulvia Vargas-De León, an associate counsel with the nonprofit LatinoJustice/PRLDEF, told THE CITY. Her group also signed the letter to LATFOR.
Jerry Vattamala, director of the Democracy Program at Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, called the switch “unfortunate” because some redesigned areas in both sets of the commission plans aligned with the “unity map” — like a district that combined Brooklyn’s Sunset Park and Bensonhurst to create what would’ve been the first majority Asian State Senate district.
But with the Legislature moving quickly, Vattamala fears that there won’t be time for a formal response if that district is excluded from the final lines.
“I hope they do the right thing,” Vattamala said. “But, you know, it’s very possible that we’ll have no public input, like zero, which is I think the complete opposite of what happened with the independent commission. So, I’m very concerned about that.”