New Yorkers aren’t out of the redistricting woods yet.
The new set of possibilities for reconfiguring the city’s landscape lies with the New York City Council. With the first set of public hearings on redistricting having concluded, New York City Districting Commission Executive Director Carl Hum spoke with the AmNews about the first meetings, the importance of the people’s input and the outlook for the near future.
“The first round was in August, and the dates that we used for all hearing are pretty much mandated by the charter,” stated Hum. “I know there were some concerns that we wouldn’t have a big turnout because it’s late August. We had five meetings around the boroughs and had about 450 people attend and over 130 people testify. I think that was a fairly good representation.”
Redistricting is the process in which political districts are redrawn in order to adjust for population changes according to the most recent U.S. Census. These changes affect how many representatives a particular area might have nationally, statewide or citywide, which can also affect the allocation of funds.
On Tuesday, Oct. 2, a hearing will take place at the Bronx Community College Hall of Fame Playhouse at 5:30 p.m. On Thursday, Oct. 4, another hearing will take place at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Anyone who plans on testifying at these hearings can register at www.nyc.gov. Also available on the city’s website are preliminary draft maps that show the commission’s current revisions (adjusted for population) alongside the current makeup of the City Council districts. Also, free and online mapping software will be available on the city’s website for people who want to submit their own ideas for how the city should draw up the lines.
“For New Yorkers, this is an opportunity to talk about their community and how they want it represented in the City Council,” said Hum. “It’s the most fundamental building block in our society: to make sure that a voter in Brooklyn’s voice matters as much as someone in Manhattan.”
So what happens after the second round of talks? Hum told the AmNews that once the hearings end, then “the commission will put out another map that takes into consideration what we’ve heard, and that draft will be submitted to the City Council for review.”
Hum said the City Council has three options once they receive the draft.
“They can accept it and adopt it,” said Hum. “They can reject it and say go back to the drawing board, which will then result in a third round of hearing … or they can do nothing and the map will be deemed as approved.”