Following divisive redistricting proposals that led to lawsuits and do-overs for City Council, State Senate, and Congressional districts, a bipartisan panel announced new State Assembly lines this past week that will come into effect ahead of the 2024 elections.
For the Jewish community in Queens, Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal has been an important voice representing the neighborhoods of Kew Gardens Hills, Briarwood, and Kew Gardens. Using Flushing Meadows as a panhandle, the 27th Assembly District extends into College Point and Whitestone. Under the Independent Redistricting Commission’s plan, Rosenthal will be losing constituents in Forest Hills and Briarwood and gaining new ground in Auburndale and Bay Terrace.
Last month’s Republican gains that elected George Santos to Congress for the seat covering northeast Queens reflected poorly for Democratic incumbents Rosenthal and State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, who were reelected with comfortable margins, but not among voters in Whitestone and Bayside. If the new lines survive public hearings and challenges from lawmakers by the April deadline, the Jewish and Democratic percentages in Rosenthal’s district will be diminished.
His colleague in the 25th District, Nily Rozic, will also be losing blocks in Briarwood and receiving new constituents in Oakland Gardens and Flushing. Since her election in 2012, she has been representing an Asian-majority district, and it reflects in her communications, staff, and outreach. But with a larger Asian population, she could face a primary challenge from that community, and a Republican challenger, as that party has been picking up support among Asian voters.
Andrew Hevesi, whose 28th District covers Rego Park and Forest Hills, will receive most of Kew Gardens and Briarwood. This district has the largest population of Bukharian Jews in Queens and the 17-year incumbent made efforts to connect with this community, in particular concerning the neglect of graves at Mount Carmel Cemetery last summer.
The most radical shift in the borough would be District 38, presently represented by Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar of Woodhaven. She would be losing the portions south of Forest Park, while gaining portions of Rego Park, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Greenpoint, and Long Island City. With little name recognition in these neighborhoods, this district is likely to see a crowded Democratic primary and a viable Republican running in 2024.
The Woodhaven portion of her district would be lumped into the 23rd District, which includes Ozone Park, Howard Beach, and Rockaway Park. These historically Republican strongholds could flip this seat to an urban elephant. In last month’s election, Democratic incumbent Stacey Pheffer-Amato faced reelection against Republican Thomas P. Sullivan, with only three votes separating them as a hand recount is underway.
Assemblyman David Weprin could run for reelection from his Holliswood home, but not in District 24, which would only cover Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park. Instead, it would be District 26, which would include Glen Oaks, Bayside, Douglaston, and Little Neck. It is represented by Assemblyman Edward Braunstein. Could there be a primary battle between these two longtime incumbents? We’ve seen it happen in Manhattan this past summer between Rep. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, who were in Congress for nearly the same number of years before being placed in the same district.
On Long Island, Republican Assemblyman Ari Brown’s district, which covers the Five Towns and Long Beach, appears virtually unchanged, while West Hempstead would be divided between Republican Ed Ra and Democrat Judy Griffin, with the district line running on Maple Street and Colonade Road – splitting the Young Israel of West Hempstead membership between two districts. Both of these incumbents had easy recent reelections, although Ra’s district would be picking up more Democratic voters from New Hyde Park and Floral Park, which have experienced an influx of South Asian Democratic voters.
Public hearings to discuss the proposed Assembly plan will be held starting on Monday, January 9, in Buffalo. The hearing closest to Queens will take place in Manhattan on Tuesday, February 7, with opportunities for online and virtual input.
By Sergey Kadinsky