Last week Governor Cuomo signed a bill locking in new state assembly and state senate districts for the next 10 years -- for the most part protecting the status quo of power sharing in Albany (Democrats control the assembly and the GOP controls the senate). And barring some seismic shifts in demographics or wildly stupid political/governmental moves by one party or the other -- that power sharing motif will extend to 2020-something when “real redistricting” will allegedly take place pursuant to a New York State constitutional amendment (yawn...). The editorial page of The New York Times has already lambasted Governor Cuomo for not vetoing these lines.
So Scarsdale....meet your new state Senator -- Andrea Stewart-Cousins. In January 2013 -- Scarsdale will be in the 35th senate district andits state senator is likely to be Stewart-Cousins (assuming she wins re-election in November). The lines for the 37th Senate district that once included Scarsdale -- held by retiring Senator Suzi Oppenheimer -- will now veer east and north of Scarsdale with a jog into part of New Rochelle where Bob Cohen now resides (how clairvoyant of Bob!). The new 37th will include Mamaroneck, Harrison and Rye as well as GOP strongholds of East Yonkers, Eastchester and Tuckahoe and Bedford. This zigzagging of senate districts in Westchester was designed in part to enhance the electoral prospects of Republican Bob Cohen, who came within a hairs breadth of defeating Senator Oppenheimer two years ago. The state senate redistricting was controlled by the GOP -- which has a 2-seat majority and will seek to expand that margin this year by jerry-rigging the districts.
Former Scarsdale resident Bob Cohen will now face George Latimer, a Democratic Assemblyman from Rye who announced his candidacy on March 19th. In addition to his service in the assembly, Latimer was the Chairman of the Westchester Board of County Legislators from 1998-2001.
Commenting on the new district lines in an email Latimer said, “We accepted 10 years of partisan gerrymandering - Ossining attached to Rockland County…slicing and dicing of New Rochelle, White Plains and Yonkers - for a promise that in 10 years, things will be better. If you believed that all the people who reneged on the "Ed Koch" NY Uprising Pledge were going to honor their commitment, then you might believe that in 10 years, these commitments will be honored. We should have voted NO on these lines. The Governor should have vetoed them, and let a court re-draw them impartially.”
In addition -- the re-alignment of senate districts also helps those Democrats comprising the rump, Independent Democratic Caucus -- including Senator Jeff Klein, whose district will be more blue -- and amusingly, Freshman Rockland State Senator David Carlucci -- whose new district now zips across the Hudson River and grabs Democratic-leaning Ossining from Westchester.
Redistricting for the State Assembly was controlled by the Democrats -- so Scarsdale will continue to be represented by Amy Paulin (who may be poised to run against County Executive Rob Astorino in 2013). Asked for a comment on redistricting, Paulin said, "I agree with the League of Women Voters that the process was flawed, but I am pleased with the result - that there will be an independent commission determining and establishing district lines in the future," stated Assemblywoman Amy R. Paulin. "Overall, we have a successful result for New York State."
Perhaps the biggest change for Scarsdale and much of southern Westchester -- will be the congressional representation. On Monday a federal magistrate locked in the newly mandated congressional district lines. These lines are final, subject to review by the US Justice Department.
Scarsdale ..... meet your new Congressman: Eliot Engel from the Bronx. Engel’s new district now sweeps up into the heart of southern and part of central Westchester. Longtime Westchester Congresswoman Nita Lowey loses southern Westchester (as well as the chance to hand off the seat to heir-apparent New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson). Lowey’s district will now encompass a chunk of northern Westchester and all of Rockland County. At 74 years old, the hearty Ms. Lowey will now have to introduce herself to a couple of hundred thousand strangers on the other side of the Hudson River.
Columnist David A. Singer is a former political consultant/campaign professional and political junkie currently toiling as a lawyer in Westchester and managing real estate and media investment.