At Upper East Side City Council candidate Benjamin Kallos’ unique redistricting-themed fundraiser last night, Mark Favors, the lead plaintiff in the redistricting lawsuit that led to court-drawn congressional lines in New York, was the guest of honor and had some interesting thoughts on the redistricting situation, especially from his perspective as an African-American resident of Harlem.
“In Harlem right now, you know where Charles Rangel being my congressman, people are little bit disappointed in the redistricting process,” he said, suggesting Mr. Rangel’s new Latino-majority district has caused him to be less-than-popular in some political circles at the moment.
However, Mr. Favors said, the fact that Mr. Rangel has a real race against a Latino challenger, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, is a good thing for democracy.
“It’s forcing people to form coalitions, which I think we’ve gone away from in New York,” he said about redistricting generally, later adding, ”Living in Harlem now, after redistricting it’s 55% Latino, we’ve had a very competitive race that we haven’t had in a while. We feel it’s very important.”
Mr. Favors also had harsh words for the New York Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, which took a firm position against the state legislative redistricting map and accused it of disenfranchising minority voters, yet saw the majority of its members in the State Assembly vote for the plan.
“The thing that probably hurt the most about that, is even though Hakeem Jeffries said we have to fight this by any means necessary, twenty members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic caucus voted for this map that disenfranchises African-Americans and Latinos in Long Island,” he said. “This is fundamental to our government and who we are. If we can’t get this group to intervene on behalf of people of color who are being disenfranchised, why have a black and Puerto Rican caucus? I think that’s an issue that people don’t want to deal with.”
He also argued if the lawsuits against the state legislative maps are successful and the Legislature needs to pass a new plan, the minority caucus needs to be held accountable for again voting for a map that fragments minority communities and underpopulates urban districts.
“If these new maps have to are voted on again, communities of color are going to have to hold their feet to the fire, because this an issue that is non-negotiable.”