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The Election Map Changes
From El Diario
February 27, 2003

By Enrique Soria

A commission charged with the redistricting of the city approved yesterday a plan that would rearrange the political map, with its principal goal being of ethnic representation.

But voices criticizing the plan approved by the Districting Commission were also raised. Some consider the plan to be discriminatory toward certain sets of Latinos.

Angelo Falcon, executive director of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF), said that the plan favored the Puerto Ricans, but not other Latin communities.

Falcon emphasized that, although the commission is integrated with three prominent Hispanic figures - Henry Calderon, Marta Galvez, and Lorraides Cortez – the redistricting adversely affects the Latin communities of Washington Heights, Upper Manhattan, and Queens.

Falcon explained that in Washington Heights the Dominicans did not receive adequate representation. Despite the fact that this proposal set a formula with two Hispanic-majority districts, the final vote included only one – District 7 – with a population that was more than 50 percent Hispanic. Falcon also noted that this percentage represented only about half of the district’s voters. The PRLDEF initiative conceived the existence of two districts with Hispanic majorities of 60 percent for each one.

He underlined that the same problem exists in Queens, where District 25 remains 40 percent Hispanic, which is less than the PRLDEF proposal called for. The proposal asked that two districts be created, each with Latino populations of 60 percent.

Falcon asserted that redistricting the political map of the city, like the plan approved yesterday, is intended to protect the representation of other ethnicities, an approach that he considers a mistake. In a letter to mayor Michael Bloomberg, Falcon, said that it was necessary that the redistribution be a response to the changing needs of New York and not “a simple function to protect elected officials.”

He added that “only through a more open political process can we assure a better democratic representation.” Falcon also stressed to Bloomberg the necessity of creating two additional districts with Latino majorities, on top of “those that have been considered originally.”

Translated from Spanish by Joshua Brustein

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