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South Brooklyn politicians, candidates react to new congressional, state senate maps

May 23, 2022 Jaime DeJesus,
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Since both new congressional and state Senate maps for New York City became official Friday, some Brooklyn politicians are reacting to the significant changes and are trying to form a new plan.

Both Congressional and Senate primaries have been moved to Aug. 23.

Both maps made by Special Master Jonathan Cervas, who was appointed by the courts, were approved by the May 20 deadline set by Justice Patrick McAllister (Steuben County, Southern Tier). Back in March, McAllister ordered New York’s Democratic-controlled Legislature to quickly redraw the state’s congressional and legislative districts after finding they were unconstitutional, according to the Associated Press.

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The 11th Congressional District race in southern Brooklyn and Staten Island has been heavily affected. Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis; former Democratic U.S. Rep. Max Rose, an Army combat veterans; and Brittany Ramos DeBarros, also a Democrat and a combat veteran, are all vying for the seat.

The new district map includes Fort Hamilton, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, New Utrecht, a portion of Gravesend and Bensonhurst, which was added to the list. It also still includes all of Staten Island.

Malliotakis was pleased by the news that Democratic-heavy Park Slope and Sunset Park, included in the original redistricting plan for the 11th D.C., were removed from the district in its new configuration.

“Today, democracy was preserved in New York through the actions of our state courts and their approval of new district lines for U.S. Congressional seats,” she said. “The heavy-hand of one party Democrat rule in Albany was rejected by the courts, and now the people of our state can choose their elected representatives, not the other way around.

She added that she is saddened that parts of Gravesend have been excluded from the district, but was happy the majority of the district remains the same.

New York GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy released a statement on the special master’s final maps.

“Today is a good day for democracy,” he said. “Democrats’ scheme to rig the election is finally dead beyond revival. We took on this fight on behalf of the 20 million citizens of this state who deserve free and fair elections.”

“The fact is that working-class people are the majority in NY-11,” said Ramos DeBarros on May 16. “Their well-being shouldn’t be tied up in the fate of two millionaires fighting over who can kowtow to the machinations of D.C. politics better. I am running to give the people of Brooklyn and Staten Island an option for real representation — not more of the same excuses.”

Brittany Ramos DeBarros, Democratic primary challenger. Photo courtesy of Brittany for Congress

Rose hadn’t commented on the changes as of press time.

In the state Senate districting map, Bay Ridge and Sunset Park also saw major changes.

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, who is serving his second term, announced he is running for re-election in the newly created 26th District.

The new district includes Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, parts of Sunset Park, Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Red Hook, Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights, Vinegar Hill and DUMBO.

“If these lines are approved by the court, I look forward to running where I live — the 26th District,” he said in a tweet on May 17. “There’s lots more work to do in Albany and I’m eager to get back to it.”

Karim Elsammak, an international airline pilot and a Republican, had declared his candidacy against Gounardes for the 22nd State Senate District in March.

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, who is running for re-election in a new district. Official State Senate photo

However, with the changed map, Elsammak said, “We are reviewing some data and will put out a press release in the next few days.”

A new ​Senate District 17 has also been formed, which includes Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach and Bay Ridge.

Iwen Chu, a former staffer for Assemblymember Peter Abbate, a Community Board 11 member and a Democrat, will be running for the new seat.

“I’m running to represent the working families of Southern Brooklyn,” she said. “We deserve a seat at the table. When I announced my campaign, I made a promise to be a voice for all. I am going to fight for safer streets, fully-funded education, reliable transit system, and affordable housing,”

Republican retired detective Vito LaBella, who was also going to run in the 22nd Senate District, is now going to run in State District 17.

“We finally have our maps,” he said in a video via Twitter. “I want to share with you that I intend to stand up to the Democratic machine that has kept our streets less safe, our schools less good and our businesses less profitable. To do that, I’m going to run for election in the New York State Senate in the new District 17.”

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