Proposed “Unity Map” for NY City Council is “Fair and Necessary”
Coalition of Civil and Voting Rights Organizations Propose Redistricting Map as Alternate to City Commission Map that Weakens Vote of Communities of Color
NEW YORK — The UNITY MAP COALITION, a coalition of the leading legal voting rights advocacy organizations representing people of color in New York City, unveiled its proposed Unity City Council Map today in response to the maps proposed by the New York City’s Redistricting Commission. Members of the coalition say the city’s map will not adequately represent many New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable.
The Unity Map Coalition is composed of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), the Center For Law And Social Justice At Medgar Evers College and LatinoJustice PRLDEF. Together, these organizations defend the civil and voting rights of the majority of New Yorkers.
“Asian Americans made significant gains in representation in New York City government with the election of a record five Asian American members to City Council last year. Yet, as the fastest growing racial group in the city, this is still an underrepresentation indicative of the historic and continued marginalization of Asians and other communities of color,” said Jerry Vattamala, Democracy Program Director at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). “The Unity Map is fair and necessary to ensuring our communities’ voices are being heard and that the long-neglected issues we care about are actually addressed.”
“Communities of color fueled New York City’s growth over the past decade and this increase must be reflected in the city’s new electoral districts, which the Redistricting Commission’s map does not do,” said Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq., Executive Director, Center For Law And Social Justice At Medgar Evers College. “The Unity Coalition’s map provides an accurate reflection of the areas where Asian, Black, and Latino/x New Yorkers reside and removes any partisan political calculation from the redistricting process. Through thoughtful discussion and analysis, Unity Map Coalition partners worked collaboratively to create a map that reflects the strength of its growing populations while navigating areas of difference, ensuring that all communities are equitably represented.”
“Once again we are seeing communities divided and their electoral power diminished,” said Cesar Z. Ruiz, LatinoJustice PRLDEF Equal Justice Fellow. “Following a tumultuous state-wide redistricting process which caused extreme confusion and outrage, we are proud to share our Unity Maps, and stand ready to ensure that the New York City process centers on the will of the people and not politicians. Our city council Unity map is a product of deep community engagement and dialogue and we are confident that it will amply protect the voting power of our all communities for the next ten years.”
The Unity Map Coalition raised concerns with the maps presented on July 15, 2022, by the NYC Redistricting Commission’s plans including its proposals to:
- Prioritize three (3) wholly contained districts within Staten Island, a configuration that raises serious malapportionment issues under federal “one person one vote” principles, and causes unnecessary shifts in districts throughout the other boroughs;
- disrupt existing performing districts and creating new districts for communities that are not protected under the Voting Rights Act, thereby running afoul of New York City’s charter;
- unnecessarily “crack” long-standing communities of interest, for example, splitting Sunset Park between Districts 38 and 43 in their preliminary map.
The Unity Map Coalition was formed three decades ago to address a redistricting process that produced electoral districts that egregiously diminished the strength of Black, Asian, and Latino communities and voters. This historic disenfranchisement of communities of color drives the Coalition’s work and informs its approach to redistricting.
The Coalition’s mapping process is guided by a commitment to create districts that accurately reflect demographic shifts in New York populations, while preserving electoral and political power for communities of color, maintaining communities of interest together, and ensuring compliance with the New York State Voting Rights Act (NYSVRA).
New Yorkers will have 30 days to look through the new maps before the New York City’s Redistricting Commission takes comments. The next round of borough-specific public hearings will be on August 15, 16, 17, 18, and 22, from 4pm to 7pm. Once the hearings are over the maps must be approved by the City Council in September.
About the UNITY MAP COALITION
The Coalition has been at the forefront of nonpartisan redistricting to protect communities of color for the last three decades. During the last Redistricting cycle in 2010-11, the Coalition successfully advocated for the adoption of its historic Unity Map for the 2010 Redistricting Congressional districts in NYC, the State Senate and Assembly, and the New York City Council. This Coalition rewrote redistricting history in NYS and serves as a model for the nation of collective advocacy and power sharing by diverse racial and cultural communities within a jurisdiction.
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), a New York-based national organization founded in 1974, protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans. By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all. AALDEF focuses on critical issues affecting Asian Americans, including immigrant rights, voting rights and democracy, economic justice for workers, educational equity, housing and environmental justice, and the elimination of anti-Asian violence.
LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For nearly 50 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout the country. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit www.LatinoJustice.org
About The Center For Law And Social Justice At Medgar Evers College
CLSJ’s mission is to address racial justice issues by providing quality legal advocacy, conducting community education campaigns, facilitating research and building organizing capacity on behalf of New Yorkers of African descent and the disenfranchised. To learn more about CLSJ visit www.CLSJ.org.
Sarai Bejarano, LatinoJustice PRLDEF
212.739.7581 ⏐ firstname.lastname@example.org
Imani Dawson, Center for Law and Social Justice
646.389.9520 ⏐ email@example.com
Stuart Sia, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
212.966.5932 ext. 203 ⏐ firstname.lastname@example.org