YONKERS, N.Y. – Yonkers City Council Republicans have introduced a map for new district boundaries – a plan they say adheres to good government principles better than that put forth by their Democratic colleagues.
The compact boundaries, which appear to more closely resemble current district lines than the Democrat-backed plan, are drawn in a way that is “logical,” “politically blind” and preserves communities of interest, GOP members said Tuesday.
“We heard a lot of concerns from citizens when the Democrats released their redistricting plan and we took their concerns and issues into account when we drew our lines,” Minority Leader John Larkin said inside his office Tuesday as the three GOP council members unveiled their version of redistricted lines.
The Republicans' map continues a partisan spat between the City Council factions over the redrawing of the six districts.
The debate began late last month with the release of the Democrats' proposal. At the time, Democrats said their plan was fairer than the previous maps and reversed “past gerrymandering.”
Republicans, however, have taken issue with the proposal, calling it an obvious attempt to strengthen Democratic control and minimize Republican representation.
“We’re not here to let that happen,” GOP Councilman Mike Breen said Tuesday. “Yonkers is city of balance of power and a two-party system and we’d like to see that continue.”
As a result, the Republicans, who have also introduced “anti-gerrymandering” legislation, hired their own consultant to put forth a competing proposal.
Councilman Dennis Shepherd said Tuesday the GOP’s map proposes a more contiguous shape for his district, the fourth, as well as more compact shapes for the five.
“Our maps, which reflect the input of the people of Yonkers, are politically blind and preserve communities of interest which have been splintered in the original set of maps,” he said.
Republicans said they hope their proposal would spur discussions with the Democrats and result in a compromise between the two sides. However, if the Democrats, who hold a 4-3 advantage on the City Council, proceed forward with their plan, the Republicans are prepared to take the matter to court, GOP members warned.
“If that map there is the one that is approved and is signed by the mayor, then we will file a lawsuit,” Larkin said, pointing to the Democratic proposal.
Voters can weigh in on the proposed maps Tuesday evening when consultants for both the Democrats and Republicans will discuss the plans at a 7 p.m. Intergovernmental Committee meeting of the City Council.
Following the Republican presentation, Democratic City Councilman Christopher Johnson said his side was open to entertaining the GOP proposal.
“This whole process is one of open dialogue and we will see tonight where we go from here,” Johnson said.
The plans are not expected to be voted on in the near future, but council members say they would like to have a plan in place by June, when petitioning begins for the November elections.
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