2012-06-20 / Features

2002

Redistricting Threats Haunt Queens Pols

n 2002, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, whose 14th Congressional District includes Manhattan’s

Upper East Side, aka Silk Stocking, neighborhood and a slice of Astoria and Long Island City, faced losing her seat under a redistricting plan promulgated by then Governor George Pataki. Maloney weathered that storm and today is assured of yet another term after soundly defeating Reshma Saujani, a 34-yearold Indian-American hedge fund lawyer, by a landslide, 62-percentage point margin in a Democratic primary election on Sept. 14, 2010. Saujani three months later announced publicly that she would not challenge Maloney again.

Eleven years later, the specter of being redistricted out of a seat in Congress or the state senate continues to haunt Queens elected officials. Redistricting will eliminate two of New York’s 29 seats in Congress. Incumbents and challengers for Congressional seats are already making decisions on the upcoming elections and a scheduled June 26 primary based on lines drawn March 6 by U.S. Magistrate Roanne Mann. Mann’s lines would eliminate Republican Congressmember Bob Turner’s Ninth District in Queens and Brooklyn and the current 22nd District in the Hudson Valley represented by Democratic Congressmember Maurice Hinchey, who is retiring. The state Senate Republican majority and the Assembly Democratic majority have no serious objections.

Democratic Congressmember Gary Ackerman, whose Queens and Long Island Fifth Congressional District also was eliminated in a federal magistrate’s redistricting plan that would merge the district with that of Long Island Democrat Steve Israel, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, had said he would instead run in a newly created district in Queens. His announcement March 16 that he would not seek election to the new Sixth Congressional District caught many political figures by surprise, including Assemblymember Rory Lancman. Lancman had promised Ackerman he would not challenge him for the seat, so when Ackerman announced he would not run, Lancman said he felt “blindsided”.

The Queens Democratic organization on Monday, March 19, announced that it would back Assemblymember Grace Meng, who currently represents the 22nd Assembly District in Flushing, for the new Sixth Congressional District seat. Lancman and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley also announced they would enter the primary contest June 26, pitting the three legislators against each other.

Under a revised redistricting plan, state Senators Michael Gianaris and Jose Peralta will likely no longer be put into a single district. However, the districts represented by state Senators Toby Ann Stavisky and Tony Avella would still be merged, creating a state senate district in Flushing with an Asian majority, it is said.—Linda J. Wilson

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