On February 7, the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) held a public hearing at Queens Borough Hall to gather comments from the public regarding proposed State Senate and Assembly District boundary lines.
Hundreds of people showed up at the hearing from all over Queens. The common theme was dissatisfaction with the newly proposed boundary lines. The hearing started at 3:30 p.m. and was still going strong after I had my opportunity to give testimony at 9 p.m..
Why were people so upset and vocal? Because many of the new districts proposed split neighborhoods and adjacent communities that should be kept together because of common interests and concerns.
Some of the proposed districts look gerrymandered. The proposed 16th State Senatorial district stretches from Oakland Gardens all the way to sections of Woodside. A piece of the district snakes around to include parts of Bay Terrace. These communities are geographically separate entities.
Because they are so far apart, residents of each community have different sets of issues. If these lines are approved, it would also increase the difficulty of the job of any legislator who is elected to represent such an area.
Many people at the hearing brought out the point that LATFOR is not an independent commission since the majority of its members are legislators. The voters should be selecting which district and legislator they want to be with, not the other way around. Concerned community people and all of the voters should have direct input into redistricting decisions.
Soon, proposed new congressional lines will be out for review. City Council will follow suit with new council lines. With this present proposal from LATFOR, the appearance is that lines are being created for political expediency.
It is time that lines be redrawn that are in the interest of the people and the communities that they live in throughout this state. If that does not happen, then Governor Cuomo must veto these plans!