City & State Magazine asked the question, “Will Latimer challenge Bowman? It may come down to redistricting,” Black Westchester further delves into how race and redistricting will play a role in the potential congressional showdown.
“For months, Westchester County Executive George Latimer has been nudged towards running for Congress in New York’s 16th Congressional District against incumbent Rep. Jamaal Bowman. He would be a formidable candidate in the Democratic primary, thanks to strong name recognition in the district and a decent campaign war chest, and he is widely expected to eventually jump into the race. But so far, he has made a point of refusing to confirm his candidacy. The reason may be New York’s ongoing fight over redistricting.” City & State Magazine wrote.
Black Westchester is paying close attention to any potential changes to the district’s boundaries, which could have ramifications that would extend through the state, shaking up the race for the state’s 17th Congressional District and having a rippling effect throughout the state of New York. In CD-17, Democrats are hoping to take back the seat now held by incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Lawler as the Democrats look to recapture control of the lower chamber.
“The final boundaries of the state’s congressional districts are currently up in the air. Last year, the Court of Appeals struck down the district map passed by the state Legislature on the grounds that it was an unconstitutional gerrymander, which resulted in a court-appointed expert drawing a new, more Republican-friendly map for the 2022 election cycle. Democrats are now arguing that the court-appointed expert’s map was just a temporary fix, and the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission must be given the chance to draw new district maps before the 2024 election,” City & State wrote.
What Black Westchester found interesting was the next sentence in the article: “If the Court of Appeals accepts that argument, the Independent Redistricting Commission – which is led by Latimer’s deputy, Ken Jenkins – will have the opportunity to change the boundaries of the 16th Congressional District.”
One has to ask the question: is Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins leading the Independent Redistricting Commission that will decide the district’s boundaries a conflict of interest?
“That’s an important factor. Anyone’s gonna want to know where their voters are and if you think about it, if they’re going to make changes to that district, where are they going to make the changes? Does it mean that it’s going to go further north into Westchester County, which conventional wisdom (says) would benefit Latimer or does it mean that it goes further south into the Bronx? Conventional wisdom is that that would benefit Bowman, but it depends on where in the Bronx, right?” Political consultant John Tomlin told City & State.
Jenkins who is the chair of the IRC, will be involved in deciding the district’s boundaries, which have the potential to benefit County Executive George Latimer should he decide to officially enter the race to challenge Congressman Bowman.
We reached out to DCE Jenkins to ask just that.
“No. I am appointed to serve on the IRC by Senator Stewart-Cousins. I am 1 of 10 votes. Should the Court of Appeals uphold the 3rd Department’s decision to have “the IRC get back to work,” the IRC will make a submission to the State Legislators for their consideration. The IRC is not the last word,” DCE Jenkins replied to Black Westchester.
The other nine commissioners of the IRC are former president of the NYS Tax Appeals Tribunal Charles H. Nesbitt (Vice Chair), former Administrator of Union Temple of Brooklyn Attorney Ross Brady, Esq., Director of Community Relations of the Carpenter Contractor Alliance of Metropolitan New York Yovan Samuel Collabo, former Asst. Dean at Albany Law School of Union University Attorney John Conway III, Esq., Dr. Ivelisse Cuevas-Molina, Dr. John Flateau (scholar-activist working at the intersection of Voter’s Rights and Election Reform), Elaine Frazier of Albany, Dir of Business Strategy & Risk at Meta Lisa Harris, Esq., and Willis H. Stephens Jr., Esq. of Mt. Kisco.
For many constituents, there is much riding on both this race and the redistricting. While many of Bowman’s Jewish constituents have urged CE Latimer to challenge CD-16’s first Black Congressman, several other organizations, including NYCD16 Indivisible, Concerned Families of Westchester, For the Many, New York Communities for Change, and Food & Water Action have all urged Latimer ‘to prioritize building Democratic power in Westchester over a possible primary against incumbent Democratic representative Jamaal Bowman in the 16th Congressional District.’ The Anti-Racist Alliance also wrote a letter urging Latimer ‘to seek another political path to avoid potential division among progressives.’
In part one she wrote;
“In 2020, the political landscape underwent a seismic shift as Jamal Bowman unseated the long-standing representative in CD 16. This change, however, was not isolated; Mondaire Jones, a black and openly gay man, emerged out of a field of 10 candidates to also become the first-ever Black person to represent Congressional District 17. These history makers both saw their constituents through Donald J. Trump, COVID-19, George Floyd, and Black Lives Matter, an insurrection in their first six days in office, unprecedented funding votes and subsequent fund allocation in the district, and the devastating impact of having congressional lines redrawn and having to defend their seats with a new constituent base. They have both legislated in a manner that brings more of their constituents into the decision-making process and they have delivered!”
In part two, she wrote:
“We need a party that pioneers new policy territories, and frankly, white male leadership isn’t cutting it. They don’t represent our needs; they can’t, not without us, and it’s time they step up to the plate. It’s part of the problem—the privilege of power without shouldering the responsibility to tackle these crucial issues. Where does this leave people of color? It’s time for a change—a change rooted in genuine action and representation. Now, let’s talk about understanding race equity and policy innovation. Imagine someone at the intersection of being white and male, trying to comprehend these concepts without facing the weight of systemic oppression. Their race and gender often grant them a free pass on showcasing innovation and serving credibility and resources on a silver platter, oftentimes without any accountability. That’s the epitome of white male privilege. For Black, indigenous folks, people of color, and women, it’s a different ball game. Credibility and resources are often denied. Respect? Not freely given. White women might get a bit more, but let’s discuss women of color—their respect often hinges on their proximity to whiteness.”
We agree with City & State Magazine when they wrote; “Should the district lines change, it will change the dynamics of the race… If the district were drawn to exclude some heavily Jewish areas of Westchester or to include Bronx neighborhoods like Co-Op City, Bowman would be much tougher to beat. But if the district were drawn to include even more neighborhoods in northern Westchester, it would likely benefit Latimer.”
As we have written before, this will be one of the most watched races in the 2024 election, with everyone waiting for Latimer’s decision to challenge Bowman with bated breath. Stay tuned to Black Westchester on this developing story of an election that could come down to not just race, but the ramifications of redistricting.