Press Release: The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association blasted the New York City Districting Commission’s proposal to split Woodhaven’s representation in the City Council.
The Commission had initially proposed placing nearly all of Woodhaven in a single City Council district. The WRBA submitted testimony to the Commission lauding this proposal, and even urged tweaks to ensure that a sliver of Woodhaven left outside the district would be incorporated. Instead of heeding the WRBA’s testimony, the Commission did the very opposite by discarding their original plans for Woodhaven and slicing the neighborhood into three parts spread over two districts.
“The Commission decided to throw Woodhaven under the bus. It should be embarrassed about how its final proposal treats our community,” said WRBA Director of Communications Alex Blenkinsopp. “Now that the final decision is in the hands of the City Council, we want all City Council Members to know that a vote in favor of this gerrymander is a vote against Woodhaven.”
Woodhaven is currently divided between two City Council districts: District 30, represented by Council Member Elizabeth Crowley; and District 32, represented by Council Member Eric Ulrich. Instead of preserving the current division, the Commission significantly worsened the split by switching large parts of the neighborhood from Crowley to Ulrich and vice versa. In addition, the final proposal places the far west portion of Woodaven in the same district as the extreme northeast corner, but excludes any residential area in between.
At the WRBA’s Town Hall on September 15, 2012, both Crowley and Ulrich made public statements indicating that the Commission’s original proposal was preferable for Woodhaven.
At that Town Hall, Crowley said the initially proposed lines are “good news for Woodhaven. It actually puts you all together in one Council district.” Ulrich said, “I think that Woodhaven, just like I think where I live in Ozone Park, should be in one district. It should be in one district. People ought to be able to hold their elected officials accountable. It ought to be easy for them to know who represents them in the City Council…. I just think that’s the right thing to do. It’s the fair thing to do.”
Now the WRBA is calling on Ulrich and Crowley to make good on their public statements and to vote in the best interest of their Woodhaven constituents. The Block Association has written to both Council Members and urged them to vote against the final proposal. The draft lines will be enacted unless a majority of City Council members vote to send the Commission back to the drawing board.
“We don’t know why the Commission decided to split and scramble Woodhaven’s representation, but we won’t just sit there quietly as the City Council rubber-stamps this awful proposal,” said WRBA President Edward K. Wendell. “This is an opportunity for City Council Members — both our current representatives, as well as those who might want Woodhaven’s support in the future — to show whether they actually care about our community.”
The WRBA has been an extremely strong voice for Woodhaven on redistricting matters this year. In January, it vigorously objected to the gerrymandered State Senate lines that split Woodhaven three ways. In March, the Block Association opposed the congressional lines that divided Woodhaven into two portions and basically separated Woodhaven from the rest of Queens.