When Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause New York spoke about the redistricting of the N.Y.S. Senate map on Thursday night April 26 at a meeting of the Scarsdale Forum, she was hopeful that a soon to be released decision by the Department of Justice would find that the new lines discriminated against voters on the basis of race.
However, the letter, released the next day, Friday April 27, found no evidence of racial discrimination in the newly redrawn map.
The new district lines, which were approved by Governor Andrew Cuomo in March have a big impact on residents of southern Westchester, where Scarsdale has been moved from the 35th district which was held by State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer for 28 years. Scarsdale has now been carved out of the 35th district which it shared with Larchmont and Mamaroneck and pushed into Andrea Stewart-Cousin’s district which extends from Yonkers to the Rivertowns and north. According to an analysis by Common Cause, the Republican controlled State Senate drew the new lines using party registration data in an effort to gain another seat for their party in southern Westchester. Lerner called the redistricting, “outrageous political gerrymandering” and said that Common Cause advocates the use of clear standards and community based maps.
In addition to this awkward reconfiguration of the southern districts, an additional 63rd district was created west and south of Albany. This new district is also expected to go for the Republicans.
Lerner told the Forum that another decision was pending about the redrawn districts. Common Cause filed a suit to challenge themal-apportionment of the districts and last week, a seven-member Court of Appeals heard arguments about whether an “arcane and problematic” formula was used correctly to calculate the addition of the 63rd district upstate. Democrats argue that if an additional district were necessary, it would be added where there is population growth in New York City.
Also at the Scarsdale Forum meeting Assemblywoman Amy Paulin addressed the group on the state of the state. She joked that her district was still in place, largely due to the fact that she lives in Scarsdale, saying, “they can’t move my house.”
She reviewed the state budget that was passed on time and includes additional funds for education and a reduced deficit, but put off mandate reform until next year. Speaking about redistricting, Paulin called the process “too partisan,” and held out hope that in 2020 lines would be drawn more fairly.
She discussed legislative work she has done on criminalizing sex trafficking, giving consumers access to court records about suits against physicians and a new online state-wide restaurant rating system. She also discussed the controversy surrounding her proposed animal welfare bill as well as her open meetings bill and the move to shift the burden for Medicare from the county to the state.
State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins stopped by the meeting to meet and greet constituents in Scarsdale who may soon be joining her district.