Redistricting plan puts Riverdale in one State Senate district

By BRENDAN McHUGH

 

Having three state senators in Riverdale has been a mixed blessing—three senators represent the neighborhood in Albany, but no particular senator devotes all his time to the community.

In the proposed redrawing of the state legislative lines by the government task force LATFOR, state Senator Jeff Klein would represent the entire neighborhood.

Klein’s new district, however, would run from Riverdale to Throggs Neck, essentially diving The Bronx in half, and it would also enter Westchester.

His district was named one of the top 20 ugliest districts by the New York Observer—they referred to it as a “Chihuahua with Ebola.”

And not everyone is totally pleased with the new lines.

“[W]e have seen that a bad process results in a bad product,” state Senator Gustavo Rivera said at a public hearing Monday in Albany. Rivera is one of the senators who would lose a chunk of Riverdale to Klein.

Rivera isn’t the only one upset at LATFOR, with good government groups such as Common Cause joining in the chorus of criticism.

Rivera blasted the task force for “packing” minorities into districts rather than allowing them to figure significantly in the election of representatives in a much larger number of districts.

“I believe this proposal does just that and moreover could lead to a potential violation of the Voting Rights Act,” he said.

Rivera also asked for an independent process this year, which would ultimately, this late in the game, be in a judicial court.

“I am disappointed that there was not an independent redistricting commission established last year, especially given that so many of my colleagues are on the record supporting independent redistricting,” he said. “I continue to believe that voters should pick their representatives, not the other way around. In order to have fair district lines, without partisan gerrymandering, we need to take legislators out of the process.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo has threatened to veto any lines not created by an independent redistricting process, though Albany insiders are concerned he may have to back down on his threat for various reasons.

And while most of the state Senate, including Republican members, signed a pledge to former Mayor Ed Koch saying they would have an independent redistricting process, they have ignored that pledge.

A recent ruling has made the primary June 26 this year, putting more pressure on the legislature to redraw the lines quickly.

In the Assembly, every district in The Bronx looks compact and “smooth,” according to Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.

“They’re very reasonably drawn,” he said. “I love my district. This district adds neighborhoods that belong in my district in the first place.”

He adds the only two buildings in Riverdale that weren’t in his district, as well as a number of schools along the Jerome Park Reservoir—schools that he went to as a child.

“I will have virtually all of Community Board 8, with the exception of Marble Hill, which is Manhattan, and some of Kingsbridge Heights.”

State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who currently represents a small chunk of Riverdale, would lose the neighborhood and represent only part of Manhattan under the proposed lines.

“We’re still examining the proposed district lines while continuing to work hard to represent our constituents,” Espaillat spokesman Ibrahim Khan said.

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