Independent Redistricting Commission unveils NYS Congressional map

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The New York State Independent Redistricting Commission-made up of five Democrats and five Republicans-unveiled a new congressional map.

The commission voted 9 to 1 to send the map to the state legislature.

Republican Commissioner, Charles Nesbitt, estimates the map to be more than 90% similar to the Congressional map already in place. However, the commissioners noted some changes were made.

“From the work that was done, all together there was 16 out of 26 districts that had some level of change,” explained Ken Jenkins, Democratic Chair of the IRC.

New York 22 in Central New York is one of the districts most impacted.

Congressman Brandon Williams released a statement saying in part, “I find myself in my 5th congressional race in just two-years. Changing lines won’t change minds—voters want common sense and relief from Progressive fantasies.”

The next step in the process is for the map to be reviewed by the state legislature and then voted on. At this time, it’s unclear as to when that will happen, seeing as though lawmakers are not scheduled to be in Albany next week.

“The Senate Majority is eager to review the proposed map submitted by the IRC,” Senate Majority Leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a statement. “We plan to discuss and decide our subsequent actions soon, taking into account the election cycle calendar. This process is critically important and we are committed to concluding it in a manner that upholds fairness and democracy.”

Back in 2014, New Yorkers voted to have an independent redistricting commission. When the commission couldn’t agree on one maps in 2022, the state legislature drew one itself.

A judge later ruled those lines unconstitutional and ordered a special master to create the map that was used in the 2022 election.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries criticized the new congressional map, suggesting that it unconstitutionally benefits Republican Rep. Marc Molinaro.

“The map adopted by the Independent Redistricting Commission should be meticulously scrutinized by the New York State Legislature, particularly as it relates to compliance with provisions in the State Constitution designed to protect historically under-represented communities. There is reason to be concerned with the failure of the IRC to address many of the flaws in the current map drawn by an unelected, out-of-town special master in 2022. Instead of remedying several of the substantive issues raised by good government groups related to communities of interest, the IRC map ignores or exacerbates them in parts of New York State, including the upper Hudson Valley.

The IRC map breaks apart six additional counties in New York State, including one that appears gratuitously designed to impermissibly benefit an incumbent in the 19th Congressional District. That would be a clear violation of the New York State Constitution. Now that the Independent Redistricting Commission has completed its work, it is important that the legislature ensure—as the Constitution contemplates—that the people of New York State be afforded a fairly drawn congressional map.”

Jeffries’ public statement puts pressure on state lawmakers to reject the bipartisan map and draw their own. “I think the Dems in the Senate and Assembly have PTSD from last year’s redistricting debacle and have little appetite for voting down the new lines,” one Democratic insider said. “That said, these maps are very much not what the Democrats had hoped for, and certainly not what DC wants to see.”

As part of the compromise approved Thursday, the heavily watched 16th Congressional District, which includes a slice of The Bronx and southern parts of Westchester County, remained virtually unchanged.

Two-term Democratic Congressman Jamaal Bowman is facing a primary challenge from Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who previously served in the New York State Assembly and NYS Senate.

Latimer said Thursday he was moving forward with his bid and he is confident that the state legislature will complete the process of approving the map.

“Regardless of the timing or the ultimate disposition of the lines, we look forward to continuing to bring our message of progressive results that benefit the people of our area, in whatever neighborhood they live and whatever jurisdictions are ultimately assigned to CD-16,” Latimer said in a statement.

New York faces a court-ordered deadline of February 28 to complete its redistricting process, but it was unclear Thursday when the state legislature would next meet to consider the map.

AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief and co-owner of Black Westchester, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Rap Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.

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