Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Controversial Albany redistricting plan realigns large swaths of the Bronx; pleasing some, angering others

State Sen. Jeff Klein's 34th District would lose Town of Eastchester in Westchester County, but pick up Riverdale

Map courtesy Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment

This is a map showing the proposed new boundaries (in white) of the 34th State Senate District in the Bronx and Westchester under redistricting.

State legislative redistricting is shaking up the political landscape of the Bronx, with Sen. Jeff Klein poised to snap up Riverdale.

Under a draft plan for new Senate and Assembly districts proposed last week by an Albany task force, the 34th Senate District - now represented by Klein - would lose the Town of Eastchester in Westchester County.

But the Democrat from Morris Park, who already represents Throgs Neck and Pelham Bay, would annex additional swaths of the borough, including Riverdale. The affluent, hilly neighborhood is currently divided between three Senate districts.

"I'm very happy that the lion's share of my district will remain intact," Klein said. "I'm also excited about representing Riverdale."

But Sen. Gustavo Rivera, slated to lose key chunks of the 33rd Senate District, blasted the Republican-dominated Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment as "laughably partisan" and unfair to downstate minority groups.

Bronxites who can't afford to pay bail for petty crimes get help from state legislature The state needs a truly independent redistricting process, said Rivera (D-Fordham), noting the new lines are still in doubt, with lawsuits pending and Gov. Cuomo ready to veto the draft plan.

Under the plan, Klein would add Riverdale, Van Cortlandt Village, Kingsbridge, parts of Castle Hill and Soundview, Tracey Towers on Mosholu Parkway and industrial Hunts Point.

Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz said the transfer of Eastchester to the 37th Senate District could give the Republican Party a better shot at winning the Westchester County seat in November.

But Klein noted his current district was gerrymandered by ex-Sen. Guy Velella, a Bronx Republican, and applauded the proposed changes as more sensible.

Meanwhile, new lines proposed by the task force tweak the only African-American Senate district in the Bronx.

Represented by state Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, the 36th Senate District currently snakes from Mount Vernon in Westchester to Morrisania and Concourse Village in the South Bronx.

Under the draft plan, the 36th Senate District would leave the South Bronx completely to cover more Mount Vernon territory.

Patrick Jenkins, political consultant for local Democrats, attributed the proposed shift to a population boom in Wakefield.

The task force plan leaves Bronx Assembly districts mostly unchanged, although Dinowitz (D-Riverdale) would pick up Van Cortlandt Village and Kingsbridge Heights, where he grew up, and Morris Park would splinter into two districts.

Brooklyn and Queens are set for more dramatic changes, with the plan carving out new Asian-American districts and merging Democratic districts.


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