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N.Y. state must tackle redistricting

The Queens Civic Congress, an umbrella organization for more than 110 Queens neighborhood-based civic groups, thinks it is time to put an end to gerrymandering.

QCC believes this can come about only through an independent, nonpartisan commission for redrawing state Assembly and state Senate districts in response to the 2010 census. To achieve that end, QCC has joined ReShape NY, a broad coalition of civic, business and union groups calling on the governor and the state Legislature to establish a redistricting commission that will draw district lines using fair and defined criteria while engaging the public in the process.

If New York is to have a Legislature responsive to the interests of constituents, citizens must demand this change from their legislators.

Until now, legislators have drawn the lines to maintain their own partisan majorities and protect incumbents. As a result, New York’s elections are notoriously uncompetitive. Without strong competition in our electoral system, meaningful discussion of public policy has taken a back seat to partisan rhetoric and unrealistic budgets. In the 2010 election, New York state had one of the lowest rates of voter participation in the nation. This is no surprise. Why should people vote if they face no real choice in candidates?

Despite support by a bipartisan group of legislators who are working to have a truly independent redistricting commission in place in time for drawing the lines for the 2012 elections, the Senate recently passed legislation that proposes a flawed constitutional amendment creating a redistricting commission that would not be effective until 2022 at the earliest. Voters in this state cannot wait another 10 years or more for reform. We deserve better.

We ask Queens citizens to contact their state legislators and insist they support an independent redistricting commission to take effect immediately.

Patricia Dolan

President

Queens Civic Congress

Flushing

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