Gerrymandering not the case

To the editor:
Re: “D.I.D. takes district leaders slots” (Downtown Express article, Sept. 21)

Comments made last week by the losing candidate for male district leader in the 64th Assembly District, Part C, Jeff Galloway, and others attribute his defeat to gerrymandering.

In fact, the exact opposite of gerrymandering is the case. The Part’s current odd shape is the result of a court-ordered redistricting meant to ensure voter equality.

Part C looks a bit like a barbell, consisting of Battery Park City and the Financial District at one end and parts of the East Village and Lower East Side at the other, with a small bit of SoHo in between.

The current lines were redrawn as a result of a 1992 federal lawsuit brought under the 1965 Voting Rights Act by the Downtown Independent Democrats (D.I.D.) in order to overcome a previous gerrymandered district. Gerrymandering is, of course, manipulating electoral boundaries in order to favor one political party or class.

The court declared that the initial boundary, drawn the year prior to favor a West Side politician, was a civil rights violation because it discriminated against minorities by carving out an East Side district that eviscerated the voting bloc of the Chinese in Chinatown and the Hispanics on the Lower East Side.

The new district lines incorporated a unified class in Part C — namely, a predominately white, middle-class population — while creating a majority-Chinese and majority-Hispanic district in the other parts of the assembly district, as well as a predominately Jewish part along Grand Street.

So, instead of speciously dragging out the red herring of gerrymandering to rationalize his resounding defeat, perhaps Mr. Galloway should address the clear fact that he and his running mate, Linda Belfer, lost in their own stronghold: Battery Park City and the Financial District.

Indeed, Belfer lost in her very own apartment building, and Galloway narrowly won by only a handful of votes in his.

What has “gerrymandering” to do with those political realities?
Sean Sweeney
Director, SoHo Alliance