We thought that the draft maps published last Monday for New York’s congressional and state Senate districts drawn by Carnegie Mellon’s Jonathan Cervas for Acting Steuben County state Supreme Court Justice Patrick McAllister were excellent, but late Friday night the final maps became even better.
Cervas was paid $90,000. His services were well worth it.
Hyperbolic cries of Jim Crow and disenfranchisement were met with logic and the state Constitution. The 3,000 or so submissions commenting or complaining about the maps were all reviewed and changes were made. In Brooklyn, Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bensonhurst, having each been divided in the draft, were knit back together. Upstate, Kingston was reunified and Saratoga Springs was shifted, while Erie County will now cover two House districts instead of three and Long Island saw a number of improvements to the lines.
Most importantly, the will of the public is being respected. Instead of the scheme of Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, backed by Gov. Kathy Hochul (all Democrats) to illegally gerrymander likely Republican-leaning congressional seats down to just four out of 26 districts, the new, legal map has three that are strongly GOP and eight more that are competitive. Other observers put the competitive seats at five, but by any count, it is more than any other state in the nation. That’s something to be proud of, New York.
Fair districts mean the people decide who runs the government, not the politicians. Let the free-for-all begin.
What may not be fair is that McAllister has ruled that candidates who collected signatures on the old, illegal maps are grandfathered in and can choose to run from any district under the new maps. That gives Hudson Valley Rep. Mondaire Jones a free ticket to run in a Manhattan/Brooklyn district very far away from where he collected his signatures, but everyone else running for that seat, like Bill de Blasio and Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, must collect signatures. Even worse, their petitions can be challenged and they can be knocked off the ballot, but Jones can’t be.
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