Rockland County Electeds Present Sound Reasoning Against Redistricting Plan for Ramapo
By M.C. Millman
In an attempt to plead the case that Ramapo should not be split into three districts as is presently being proposed as a result of the last Census, Rockland County elected leaders attended the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission public hearing in White Plains last night.
As of December, New York's Independent Redistricting Committee proposes splitting Ramapo into three different assembly districts, 96, 97, and 98.
The fifth of the twelve public hearings scheduled throughout New York State allowed for feedback on the court-ordered plan for the state's Assembly districts.
Town of Ramapo Supervisor Michael Specht; Legislators Aron Wieder and Itamar Yeger; Village of Chestnut Ridge Trustee Chaim Rose; Ramapo Deputy Supervisor Brendel Logan Charles all presented the case that Ramapo's assembly district should be left as it is, undivided, given that it represents one community of interest.
“As you can tell, the town of Ramapo is the home of Orthodox Chassidic people,” Legislator Aron Wieder stated while speaking during the hearing and utilizing a map and pictures of the frum Chassidic community. “We are a community of interest. Do we not deserve the same as any other community of interest? They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, I hope two pictures will be worth justice.”
"Deputy Supervisor Brendel Logan Charles, County Legislators Aron Weider and Itamar Yeger, Chestnut Ridge Trustee Chaim Rose, and I testified before the Independent Redistricting Commission in White Plains yesterday to speak out against the proposed Assembly map that would divide Ramapo into three separate Assembly Districts," Town of Ramapo Supervisor Michael Specht tells Rockland Daily. "Our town has the largest population of any town in New York outside of Long Island, and we deserve our own representative in the Assembly that can fight for our needs. I told the Commission it would violate the principle that communities of interest should be kept together, as the draft plan improperly splits the Town's Orthodox community into multiple districts, separating Monsey and Kaser from New Square, which disenfranchises the community. We hope the IRC heard our objections and will right this wrong."
Unlike other speakers at the hearing, where no two speakers came to address the Redistricting Commission on the same topic, all five of Ramapo's diverse representatives presented strong reasons why Ramapo should not be split into three Assembly districts.
"This afternoon, other Ramapo elected officials and I addressed the State's independent redistricting commission," Legislator Yeger shares with Rockland Daily. Ramapo is large enough to contain an entire Assembly district within its borders. Surprisingly, the draft map splits the burgeoning Orthodox Jewish population, a prototypical community of interest, combining the two parts with neighboring towns, who themselves would be more appropriately together in a single district of their own. The Commission's draft violates the constitutional mandates that voters approved specifically to avoid results like this. I sincerely hope the Commission will revisit the 96th and 97th Assembly districts and make the necessary changes to enfranchise Ramapo's residents by keeping it together in a single district to the extent possible."
"The Town of Ramapo is a “community of interest” with its own unique community and character," Chaim Rose, Village of Chestnut Ridge Trustee, shares. "As such, the Town should absolutely not be divided into three Assembly Districts as currently proposed. The fair and just outcome warrants one united Town of Ramapo Assembly District with some slight modifications and possible deviations. It is my sincere hope that the NYS Independent Redistricting Commission does the right thing for the community and our constituents."
The first set of redistricting maps following the results of the 2020 Census for Congress, State Senate, and State Assembly were drawn by Democratic state lawmakers. It was subsequently ruled that the Democrats engaged in illegal gerrymandering when they drew the maps, and all but the Assembly maps were redrawn before the 2022 election. Although State judges ruled that the Assembly maps also needed to be redrawn, the actual redrawing was put off until 2023.
A final version of the State Assembly map is due this April.