MARCH 2003

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Redistricting of Chinatown Finalized
By Sing Tao Daily
February 27, 2003

The New York City Districting Commission decided yesterday that Chinatown would stay in District 1 as 13 out of 15 of its commissioners voted for the proposal on the redistricting for city elections for the next 10 years despite of the controversies surrounding the issue in the past months.

William Floyd, Executive Director of the commission, said that whether Chinatown should remain in District 1 has caused major controversies in the redistricting. The commission has received more than 700 postcards supporting keeping Chinatown in District 1 and more than 500 postcards saying that Chinatown should be included in District 2, which covers the Lower East Side.

Meanwhile, the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, where the Chinese community used to be divided into three districts, is now included in District 38, which is comprised of mostly Hispanic and Asian residents.

Among the commission’s 15 commissioners, 13 voted to keep Chinatown in District 1 and one abstained while the other one was absent. The results of the redistricting will be submitted to the city Board of Election on March 4th, and then to the U. S. Department of Justice in mid-March for reviewing. If approved, it will be introduced to the city’s charter in 60 days and will be used as the guideline for all city elections in the next 10 years.

The result rose strong opposition from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), which has been advocating that the Hispanic and Asian voters are combined into one district. Its executive director, Margret Fung, said the results of the redistricting showed that Chinatown’s interests are again neglected. She said that the only Chinese-American commissioner, Donald Hong, is associated with the Chinese American Planning Council, which supports the reigning city councilman, Alan Gerson, and that the commission has put politics above Chinatown’s interests. She added that the AALDEF would file a complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice to protest against the results.

In response, Hong said the redistricting can not satisfy everyone. He said that there has been an influx of Chinese-Americans moving into Battery Park City in recent years, diversifying the population in Tribeca. Meanwhile, he added that, in the aftermath of the 911 attacks, it would benefit Chinatown to stay in the same district with Battery Park City in the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. In addition, he said he is Republican and Gerson is Democrat so his position has absolutely nothing to do with political interest.

On the other hand, the Asian Americans for Equality and Chinese American Planning Council (CPC), both supporting keeping Chinatown in District 1, said 911 is the key factor in people’s support of the status quo. Sho-chuen Chen of the CPC said Chinatown has gone a long way from 10 years ago, when nobody cared about the redistricting, and that there are always different opinions in every community. He suggested that people look at what they have in common and work out the differences in the hope of electing the first Chinese-American city council member from Chinatown.

Translated from Chinese by Larry Tung.

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