For More Latinos In New Yorks City Council
10 October, 2002
By Fernando Aquino
The demographic situation in New York City, changed by the 2000
census, would entitle the Latino population to more participation
in New York´s local politics. This is the opinion of Angelo
Falcon, Senior Policy Executive of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense
and Education Fund (PRLDEF). On October 9, Falcon presented the
PRLDEFs proposal for a redistribution of the 51 districts
in which the city is divided, with each district being represented
by its own council.
"We are not interested in protecting any office but in making
sure that every community is represented appropriately and in fighting
segregation out of reasons of political convenience," explained
According to PRLDEFs plan, the number of Latinos in the City
Council could rise from 10 to 13. The 2000 census turned out that
the Latino Community in New York City has ascended to 2,160,554
people. With 2,601,267 inhabitants, the white population makes up
32 percent of the citys inhabitants. And with a total of 1,962,154
people, the Afro-American community makes up 24 percent.
The second group
"Since the Latino community is the second largest group in
the city, this must be reflected in its political influence,"
says Falcon. The most profound changes Falcon presents will affect
district 21 that is represented by Hiram Monserrate, district 10,
represented by Miguel Martinez and district 14, represented by Maria
The plan is to shift some of the residents from district 21, which
is highly populated by Dominicans, and district 26 to district 25
for administrative issues. By doing this, it would be possible for
the residents to elect a Hispanic Council both in district 21 and
The same might happen in district 10, where part of the residents
would be subscribed to district 7, currently represented by Robert
Jackson. This would give the Hispanic population in district 7 the
possibility to vote for one of their own and in addition hold district
Changes in the Bronx
The PRLDEF also took into account district 14 where many Dominicans
have moved to the Kingbridge area. A just reorganization that moves
parts of district 14 to district 16 would give a Hispanic the chance
of being elected.
The plan of the PRRLDEF is not supposed to remain a mere proposal.
A panel of 15 members, who have been elected by the mayor and the
City Council, is already dealing with the redistribution of districts.
Their outline is expected for next week.
In contrast to what he thinks about the redistribution of districts
on state level, Falcón believes that the process in New York
City will be open and transparent.
"In Albany, Pataki, Bruno and Silver head the most undemocratic
process we have ever seen, and every participant is controlled by
them. But in this case, the panel has been composed of people of
The Councils still do have to approve of the commissions
plan, but Falcon is sure that they would not have the same influence
as legislators in Albany to make district lines remain inflexible
to make sure they will not lose their offices.
Soon after the Commission presents its plan, different groups of
interest will be given the opportunity to negotiate their points
of view. The final plan is scheduled for December and will be implemented
in next years elections.
Translated from Spanish by Kirsten Immendorf
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