The final chapter has yet to be written for New York state’s redistricting chronicles, a process that will drag out into 2023 with new Assembly maps under consideration.
The redistricting process takes place every 10 years, and this cycle was far from straightforward. The bipartisan Independent Redistricting Commission failed to agree on statewide maps by the deadline in January, resulting in the state Legislature, held by a Democratic supermajority, drawing their own.
That didn’t go so well.
The state Senate and Congressional maps, drawn in favor of Democrats, were ruled unconstitutional in April, and a court-appointed special master redrew them before being approved by the court in May.
Because of this, the state Senatorial and Congressional primaries were pushed back to August, while Assembly and other statewide primaries were decided in June.
The Assembly maps were also ruled unconstitutional in June, but remained in place for the 2022 elections. Once the new Assembly lines are approved, they will come into play for the 2024 elections and those new districts will officially take shape in 2025.
Democratic strategist Na’ilah Amaru, the former executive director of the City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, told Bloomberg Law that Democrats were “a little bit too eager” when they drew the gerrymandered maps.
But now, the state Senate and Congressional lines are what Michael Li, of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, said are “among the most competitive and politically balanced in the nation,” with competition increasing instead of decreasing under the new maps.
The bipartisan Independent Redistricting Commission released a draft plan this month, and the entity will hold public hearings on the maps throughout the state from January until March, including a Bronx County hearing on Jan. 31.
“I know I speak for the entire Commission when I say we are thrilled to have a unified redistricting plan,” Ken Jenkins, the new commission chair and Westchester deputy county executive, said in a released statement. “I urge the public to review this plan and to submit their comments either in writing or attend a public hearing.”
Members of the public can present alternative redistricting plans to the commission at the public hearings. Individuals can also submit testimony, public comment and/or maps through the commission’s website or mail.
While some Bronx districts slightly shift lines in the draft plan, others take on new shape.
Under the proposal, the 83rd Assembly District lines would remain the same with the exception of the Holy Rosary School property and a piece of land next to the Hutchinson River.
Meanwhile, the 84th Assembly District, which is represented by Assemblymember Amanda Septimo, would lose parts of Mt. Eden and Concourse to Assembly District 77, while gaining parts of Melrose from Assembly District 79.
Though Rikers Island was part of the Bronx’s 85th Assembly District in this year’s election, (as it was under the prior lines) the draft plan moves the island into Queens’ Assembly District 35.
In the 87th Assembly District, the draft plan pulls the lines in from west of Castle Hill and pushes slightly east toward the Hutchinson Parkway. The 82nd Assembly District absorbs more of Morris Park in the plan.
The Redistricting and You interactive map below shows the changes between the district lines that have been in place for the past decade, the lines that assemblymembers were voted into office based on and the draft plan boundaries, using the slider on top of the map and the categories on the right.
The Independent Redistricting Commission also has a map on its website that shows the boundaries of the current and proposed lines.
John Grainey, the former chairman and current member of the Bronx GOP, told the Bronx Times that the lines seem to be in favor of Democrats “as usual,” and that it’s hard to see the differences in the draft plan from the current lines.
“They’re very subtle and very confusing to the general public,” he said.
When the bipartisan commission couldn’t come to a consensus in January, Republicans and Democrats each proposed their own maps. Steven Romalewski, the director of the CUNY Mapping Service behind Redistricting and You, told the Bronx Times he noticed that while many of this month’s drafted Assembly districts match the plan that was put forward by the commission’s Republicans in January, most of the Bronx districts do not.
Since the maps were released, political eyes have been more focused on areas in the city and state with bigger changes proposed, such as in southern Brooklyn.
The Bronx Democratic Party and Ariana Collado, the party’s executive director, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.
Reach Aliya Schneider at [email protected] or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes