Calls for Similar Commission for Yonkers to Promote Reform, Transparency and End ‘Gerrymandering’
Yonkers, NY— February 18, 2011 — Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick supports Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s announcement to establish an Independent Redistricting Commission to permanently reform how congressional and state legislative districts lines are drawn in New York, Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick today pledged to support a local Independent Redistricting Commission in order to draw lines for Yonkers in advance of the 2013 elections according to the similar principles.
Mr Lesnick said, "What began with a grass-roots movement of citizens involved with NY Uprising, is now being put forth by Governor Cuomo and should be implemented not only for state and federal office holders but also in Yonkers and every city in the state that has council districts."
Mr Lesnick called for the local commission to mirror the focus and criteria of the proposed state commissions in that:
To the extent practicable, the most and least populous city council districts shall not exceed the mean population of districts for each house by more than one percent;
Districts shall unite communities of interest;
To the extent practicable, neighborhoods shall not be divided in the formation of districts.
In addition, the Commission’s redistricting plans would be drawn according to thefollowing requirements, subject to the requirements of state and federal law:
* All council districts shall be as nearly equal in population as practicable;
* Districts shall be contiguous;
* Districts shall not be established that are intended to or result in a denial or abridgement of minority voting rights including the opportunity of minority voters to participate in the political process, and to elect the candidates of their choice, including but not limited to minority populations with the opportunity to elect the candidates of their choice without comprising a majority of the district; and
* Districts shall not be drawn with an intent to favor or oppose any political party, any incumbent, or any previous or presumed candidate for office;
Similar to Governor Cuomo’s proposal, the members of the Independent Redistricting Commission would be chosen by the legislative leaders from a bi-partisan pool of qualified candidates that reflects the city's geographic, racial, ethnic, and gender diversity. That pool would be chosen by a bi-partisan nominations committee selected by the executive and legislative branches. At each step of the appointments process, the decision-makers must consult with organizations devoted to protecting minority and other voters' rights and must adhere to criteria to ensure the independence of those who draw the lines.
Requirements for service include being at least four years removed from being a member of the City Council, a city employee, a political party official, or a registered lobbyist.
SOURCE: Office of the Yonkers City Council President's Director of Communication Adam Brill.