Following a lawsuit filed by New York Republicans to undo this year’s Congressional and State redistricting last month, court-appointed expert Jonathan Cervas released a new map on Monday that gives an edge to the city’s lone Republican in Washington, puts two longtime Manhattan Democratic incumbents in the same district, and gives Jewish voters an opportunity to decide the future of this party in competitive primaries between centrists and leftists.
“The Jewish vote is consolidated in Queens and Brooklyn. They should be able to get their voices heard,” said Shimi Pelman, a Democratic District Leader in Kew Gardens Hills. “Putting Maloney and Nadler together is an interesting take. Greg Meeks retains his area, so we are okay there.”
Jeff Kohn, a candidate for the party’s State Committee who lives in Kew Gardens Hills, expressed concern about the new lines in Rep. Grace Meng’s district, which has the largest number of Jewish voters in Queens.
“They took out parts of northern Flushing and eastern Queens and gave her Jackson heights. I am concerned about a primary; our community has to continue being organized and registering new voters. Her base was solid with Jewish and Asian voters, but it’s not as big as it was with the loss of eastern Queens. We have to continue explaining to people about the importance of voting.”
While losing the eastern portions of her district, Meng is gaining a chunk of Jackson Heights, a neighborhood that voted for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an outspoken opponent of Israel.
In Brooklyn, Jewish communities in Midwood, Flatbush, and Crown Heights were placed within the 9th District, held by Rep. Yvette Clarke. Like other districts within the five boroughs, its diversity is evident in its borders, which run from Bed-Stuy to Bensonhurst. Borough Park’s voters have been represented by Jerry Nadler for three decades in a district with the most unusual lines, as it ran to downtown Brooklyn, lower Manhattan, and the Upper West Side.
Cervas’ lines put Nadler’s Manhattan home in the same district as Carolyn Maloney. Both of them sought to retain their seats and at this time, there is no word if they will be running against each other, retiring, or relocating their residences. Maloney has faced leftist primary challengers in recent years. With Astoria and Greenpoint cut out of her district, the Upper East Side incumbent stands a better chance of keeping her seat.
The Brooklyn portion of Nadler’s district will likely have an open seat race that will include voters in Park Slope, Cobble Hill, and Manhattan south of 14th Street. Pelman believes that Borough Park’s Orthodox voters will turn out in larger numbers than the liberal base in Park Slope.
Concerning the city’s lone urban elephant, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, her district retains the entirety of Staten Island, with a smaller portion in Brooklyn where she was expected to do poorly in the previous redistricting lines.
In the northern suburbs, incumbent Reps. Mondaire Jones and Jamaal Bowman were placed in the same district, both of them being young, progressive, and running for their second terms. On Long Island, two districts with open seat races were given compact borders. The third district that covers Great Neck and Bayside will not be on both sides of the Long Island Sound. Instead, it was given new territory in Levittown and Massapequa.
The State Senate lines drafted by Cervas offer relatively clean lines, but they divide the Jewish vote in central Queens among three Democratic incumbents: Rego Park and most of Forest Hills will remain in Joe Addabbo’s district; Kew Gardens Hills will be represented by Leroy Comrie in a district that includes Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill, and most of southwest Queens. To the east of this district, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, and Jamaica Estates will be in Toby Ann Stavisky’s district. All three have a long history of connecting with the Jewish community, in regard to senior programs, support for Israel, and security for synagogues, among other issues. But as they face potential primary challengers and eventual retirement, community leaders worry about the Jewish vote being diminished in districts whose population bases are respectively in southern Queens, downtown Flushing, and southeast Queens.
Given less than a week to submit public feedback, activists in this neighborhood urged their neighbors to email Judge Patrick McAllister’s office to argue against splitting Fresh Meadows and Hillcrest from Kew Gardens Hills. “Correct me if I am wrong, KGH is with York College and not Queens College? That makes no sense,” wrote Alan Sherman.
“Communities of interest must be in one district,” Kohn wrote. “Kew Gardens Hills has been gerrymandered into a southeast Queens State Senate district. Pomonok, Electchester, and Hillcrest have been split off into a Flushing-centered district. This is splitting up our communities. Communities of interest must be together in one district.”
By Sergey Kadinsky