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At a Republican gathering Sunday evening, City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) criticized the Democratic leadership in the state Assembly for redrawing legislative boundaries in a way that gerrymandered part of one northeast Queens district and minimized the voice of GOP voters.
“Everywhere they could, they cut us in half,” he told members of the Queens Village Republican Club during its annual Lincoln’s Day Dinner.
“The 26th Assembly District — the strongest Republican district in the county of Queens — they cut it in half to prevent Republicans from being able to run successfully for office,” he said.
State Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) represents the 26th District, which covers Whitestone, Bowne Park, Auburndale, Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck and Glen Oaks.
The councilman was referring to the western portion of District 26, where the state’s Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment has proposed taking a part of Whitestone out of the district and placing it in Michael Simanowitz’s (D-Electchester) District 27, which covers College Point, Kew Gardens Hills and Kew Gardens. LATFOR also proposed taking a part of Bowne Park and placing it in Flushing’s District 40.
District 40 is a proposed new Asian minority district created from parts of the current District 26, Rory Lancman’s (D-Fresh Meadows) District 25 and Grace Meng’s (D-Flushing) District 22.
But Braunstein disagreed with Halloran’s analysis, saying the new proposed boundaries of his 26th District do not change the voter demographics.
“The 26th District as it is now and as it is proposed has the exact same breakdown of Democrats and Republicans, so it was not done in a political fashion,” he said.
Halloran told TimesLedger Newspapers Tuesday that voters in neighborhoods like Whitestone and Bowne Park, regardless of their political party affiliation, have a history of electing Republican candidates, such as former state Sen. Frank Padavan, Councilman Michael Abel and Assemblyman Douglas Prescott.
“The reality is that the registration number doesn’t change the fact that a homeowner who pays taxes on a one-family house would entertain a Republican candidate far more frequently,” he said. “In the Whitestone community, Democrats by registration will vote for Republicans just as often as they will Democrats. Chopping out half of the Whitestone community does change the demographics. It’s not one Whitestone voting block.”
Halloran stressed that his criticism of Democratic Party leaders was not to be misconstrued as a reflection on Braunstein, a freshman party member.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has in the past said he would veto any maps that did not come from an independent redistricting commission.
“He should veto the lines as they are now, especially considering the way some of the Senate districts are drawn,” Braunstein said. “The Assembly lines were drawn in an effort to protect and incorporate minority groups and certain ethnicities. I think those lines are somewhat better.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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