Yonkers GOP Pushes 'Anti-Gerrymandering' Resolution

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City Councilman Mike Breen (left) and Minority Leader John Larkin (right) introduce "anti-gerrymandering" legislation Thursday at City Hall. Photo Credit: Matt Bultman
The Democrat's proposed redistricting plan (right) and the current council districts (left). Photo Credit: Matt Bultman

YONKERS, N.Y. – City Council Republicans are pushing for new legislation as the debate regarding a citywide redistricting continues.

Republicans introduced an “anti-gerrymandering” resolution Thursday, calling for nonpartisan process that doesn't favor any person or party.

“When politicians pick their voters, the voters lose,” Minority Leader John Larkin said. “We need reform that will put voters back in charge.”

Last week, Democrats released their proposed map of the city’s six council districts.  At the time, they said the new plan featured very tight population equality and is in full compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Republicans, however, have taken issue with the plan. They contend it doesn't follow good government principles and has the potential to dilute minority representation.

“It’s disingenuous,” City Councilman Mike Breen said. “This is not a serious proposal. It is gerrymandering at its best.”

One of the biggest issues, Republicans say, is the plan to reshape Councilman Dennis Shepherd’s District 4.

The Democrats have proposed taking the district, currently in the southeast corner of the city, and stretching it in a thin line along the eastern boundary and down across the Bronx border.

“If this isn't gerrymandering I don’t know what is,” Larkin said.

The Republican’s "anti-gerrymandering "resolution calls for increased transparency and public hearings, prohibiting the splitting of communities with district boundaries and creating districts that are compact and contiguous.

“At the end of the day, whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, liberal, conservative or independent, we all want to see our city prosper and improve the way government work,” Larkin said.

In anticipation of the Republican’s resolution, Democrats issued their own statement. In it, council members encouraged GOP members to “engage in constructive debate rather than create hysteria.”

"I would hope that my Republican colleagues stop fanning the flames where there is no fire,” Councilman Christopher Johnson said. “For them to now accuse the council's Democratic caucus of gerrymandering is ridiculous and reeks of hypocrisy when the boundaries the city currently is using are clearly partisan.”

Despite Republican claims of being left out of the Democrat’s redistricting plan, City Council President Chuck Lesnick said he wants the two sides to work together.

“My hope is that the Republicans cease their character assassinations and work with us to create district lines that are legal, reflective of the fast changing Yonkers population and reduce costs of elections for the taxpayers of Yonkers,” he said in a statement.

Republicans say they continue to work toward creating an alternative plan they will present to Democrats in the near future.

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