My name is Carol Salmanson, and I’ve been working on the #DrawDemocracy Campaign. The #DrawDemocracy Campaign is a partnership between True Democracy NY and RepresentUS NYC.
True Democracy NY, a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization, is a non-partisan group of New Yorkers dedicated to changing the systemic dysfunction and corruption of New York politics. We believe in empowering everyday people to take action locally to fix our broken elections and hold politicians accountable.
RepresentUS NYC is a chapter of RepresentUS. We have created what we believe to be the first ever jigsaw puzzle based on electoral districts, of the New York State Senate. You can see the puzzle, which illustrates the reason for the crazy district lines: to protect incumbents and the party who drew them.
True democracy would have district lines that represent their residents. And, actually, New York City’s Community Boards do just that, as is shown by the map here.
I myself live in Manhattan, in
- Community District 6
- Dan Quart’s Assembly District 73
- State Senator Liz Krueger’s District 28
- Carolyn Maloney’s Congressional
I’ve done a bit of research on their district lines, and found maps provided online by NYC Department of Planning. There is a .pdf for every borough, each containing maps of:
- Community Boards, in color
- State Assembly District lines overlaying the Community Boards
- State Senate Districts overlaying the Community Boards
- Congressional Districts overlaying the Community Boards
So I spent some time in Photoshop graying out everything but my own district, whose gerrymandering isn’t too bad, comparatively speaking. But the way they were drawn still chops up Manhattan’s community.
This map shows Cogresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s district, which is fairly sane, but cuts up Community District 3.
This second map shows Assembly Member Dan Quart’s district. It contains Community Districts 5, 6, and 8, but doesn’t have even one community board in its entirety.
And finally, let’s look at State Senator Liz Krueger’s map. It’s bizarre, although nowhere near as bizarre as other state senate districts (District 29, for example). Its southeast segment cuts out single blocks in places, and the district has portions of Community Boards 2, 4, 5, and 8.
While this is not my district, in my research State Senate District 29 made my eyes bug out. A single block connects a chunk of the Manhattan’s west side to its northern east side and the Bronx.
This map illustrates exactly what gerrymandering means.
Clearly, the intent in drawing these electoral districts was not representative government.
I implore this commission to draw the maps in the same spirit as the community boards’ lines were drawn. They are truly drawn to represent its residents, rather than politicians and their parties.