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GOP proposes own redistricting plans for Assembly, Senate

James Hong, spokesman for The Asian American Community Coalition on Redistricting and Democracy, stands near one of the Unity Maps for New York City, which the coalition hopes will be taken into consideration by a committee, including state Democrats and Republicans, who will redraw state legislative lines next year. Photo by Joe Anuta
TimesLedger Newspapers

State Republicans have been quietly shopping around a map of proposed legislative lines as part of the upcoming redistricting, as Queens minority groups have been advocating for lines of their own.

The GOP blueprint is still in its infancy, according to a Republican source who spoke on condition of anonymity because the first draft of the districts was not made official, but it could include some significant shuffling in Queens.

The district of state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) — which encompasses all or part of Bayside, Douglaston, Bay Terrace, Queens Village, Bellerose, Flushing, Whitestone, Little Neck, College Point, Hollis, Jamaica Estates, Glen Oaks and Floral Park — could be eliminated altogether and a new district carved out farther south.

The new district could include portions of Hollis and the northern portions of Sen. Malcolm Smith’s (D-St. Albans) district, as well as portions of Nassau County like Long Beach, the source said. Although it is not common for state offices to cross into other counties, the district of former Sen. Frank Padavan did so in the 1980s.

There is also talk that the district of Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) could be extended farther south to include some or all of the Rockaways, the source said.

Alternatively, the district of a senior Brooklyn Republican senator could gain some ground in Queens as well.

Sen. Marty Golden (R-Brooklyn) could gain ground across the water to include conservative enclaves like Breezy Point in order to protect the senior lawmaker, the source said, since one strategy behind redistricting is to protect incumbents.

From the look of Golden’s district, it appears that it has been protected in the past.

Golden’s district is basically in three segments. The neighborhood Marine Park is connected to the middle portion of Golden’s district by a thin strip, at one point only a block wide. The middle blob, the neighborhood Sheepshead Bay, is connected to the main section of Golden’s district by a small, one-block portion as well.

And that kind of selective carving out of boundaries is what groups like The Asian American Community Coalition on Redistricting and Democracy spoke out against at a Nov. 16 news conference.

“It’s very telling when your own legislators describe their districts as gerrymandered,” said James Hong, spokesman for the coalition, describing lawmakers like state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) and Avella, the latter of whom described his district as one of the worst gerrymandered districts in the state.

An organization called the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund drew up a map of its own called the Unity Map, which looks drastically different from the current configuration in the borough.

Many neighborhoods with large immigrant populations are broken into several legislative districts. For example, the predominately South Asian neighborhood of Richmond Hill is broken up into six Assembly districts and two Senate districts, which members of the fund said prevents the community from having a real voice in elections.

Speakers at the event said they did not simply want to elect a minority candidate into office, but wanted to make sure communities with common interests like economic status, culture and language are grouped together.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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