What might redistricting mean for Brooklyn?
BY BEN VERDE
New York’s congressional,
state senate, and assembly districts
are set to be redrawn this
year, and for the fi rst time in
history, everyday New Yorkers
have had the chance to weigh
in on how they think the districts
should be drawn up.
The New York Independent
Redistricting Commission, the
entity tasked with redrawing
the state’s political boundaries,
has held a series of hearings so
far, including one for residents
of Brooklyn on July 29.
The process, which takes
place every ten years following
the census count, has long
been set up to benefi t incumbent
candidates and political
parties, with districts carved
up into oblong shapes, often
splitting up neighborhoods
into multiple districts, known
colloquially as gerrymandering.
Following the 2020 census,
New York state will also lose
one congressional seat.
The redistricting commission
was formed after a 2014 referendum
with the intention of
including more New Yorkers in
the redistricting process. Made
up of 10 appointed members
— fi ve Republicans and fi ve
Democrats — the commission
has the stated purpose of being
non-partisan, but has received
criticism for the partisan nature
COURIER L 6 IFE, AUGUST 6-12, 2021
of its appointees.
abound in Brooklyn, with oddshaped
across multiple communities
and moving snake-like down
narrow corridors, leaving residents
in those neighborhoods
without one clear representative
to take their issues to.
also present challenges from
a governing perspective, according
to one south Brooklyn
elected offi cial who said
that, when districts span large,
sliced up swaths of different
neighborhoods, it weighs on
elected offi cials’ abilities to
serve all their constituents.
“It’s tough to have such a
widely dispersed district because
you only have so much
staff, so many hours in a day,
it’s hard to really be a good advocate
for and representative of
a district that spans such a wide
geographic area,” said state Sen.
Andrew Gounardes, whose oblong
district stretches from the
shores of the Verrazano to Marine
Park. “It’s very hard for me
to be in Bay Ridge, Gravesend,
and Gerritsen Beach all within
the span of an hour, it’s impossible
to drive that. It’s very hard
to adequately be present in each
one of those neighborhoods
the way that a representative
Gounardes maintains that
his district was carved out with
the benefi t of his predecessor,
former Republican state Sen.
Marty Golden, in mind, resulting
in a puzzle-piece shaped
district that contains small
slivers of some neighborhoods,
and wide swaths of others that
“With the population density
of Brooklyn being what it
is, there’s no reason why, in an
objective-speaking world, that
my district would extend from
the Narrows waterfront all the
way to Flatbush Avenue, but
cut out about half the population
that lives in between that
span,” Gounardes said.
‘That’s what makes a
democracy a democracy’
When neighborhoods are
subdivided into several different
districts, it can also
make it harder for locals in
those communities to get the
services they need from their
elected offi cials, or to harness
political power — something
currently playing out in Sunset
Park, which is divided into
a whopping fi ve state senate
districts between the waterfront
and Eighth Avenue.
The neighborhood’s Asian-
American community has
grown at a rapid pace over the
past decade, with the majority of
those constituents living in two
Brooklyn’s congressional districts as they currently stand. NYC Planning
Continued on page 26
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