New proposal for Asian-American Council District sparks debate

Districts redrawn after census to reflect population changes

July 16, 2022 Raanan Geberer
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The proposed creation of what the New York City Redistricting Commission calls an “Asian Opportunity District” in parts of Sunset Park, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst set off controversy and was debated on social media sites.

The commission released its map of proposed new City Council districts on Friday. The creation of an Asian-majority district in Brooklyn was expected and was discussed in politics-centered publications for several weeks. Indeed, an organization known as Asian Americans for Equality proposed an Asian-majority district “in the area around Bensonhurst” as early as 2012.

The Redistricting Commission is tasked with redrawing City Council maps after every biennial census, to reflect changes in population. The Asian American voting-age population in the proposed district, a revamped version of the 43rd C.D., is approximately 57 percent, the commission said.

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In particular, there are approximately 45,000 Chinese Americans in Bensonhurst and 28,000 in Sunset Park, according to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.

To help create this district, the commission combined Bay Ridge, part of the current 43rd, and Sunset Park, now in the 38th, into a revamped 38th District. It also detached Red Hook from the 38th District and put it into a revamped 39th District, which would stretch south into Park Slope and Kensington.

Politico pointed out that the move could pit current 43rd C.D. Councilmember Justin Brannan and current 38th C.D. Councilmember Alexa Aviles against each other in the next election. 

Brannan and Aviles released a joint statement panning the new districting proposal. 

“It is perplexing that the creation of an AAPI-majority seat in southern Brooklyn would lead to the dissolution and division of Red Hook, Sunset Park – in addition to Dyker Heights – and it is certainly not necessary,” the joint statement read, according to Politico

This map shows the proposed new City Council districts for Brooklyn. The heavy black lines represents the new boundaries, while the different color patterns reflect the current districts. Map courtesy of NYC Districting Commission

On Twitter, one user, who calls himself “JayJacobsLadder,” posted, “The merger is fine, but you can do it without removing Red Hook, which is absurd.”

In return, another user, MayorVibesIsBadatHisJob, tweeted, “I’m sorry but the South Brooklyn City Council district changes are perfectly reasonable, and incumbent protection … is not a redistricting mandate.”

Looking at the proposed map for Brooklyn, Council districts in Northern, Central and Eastern District seem to have basically been left alone, with minor adjustments. For example, part of the 33rd C.D., stretching from Brooklyn Heights to DUMBO, would have a boundary a few blocks south, on Butler Street.

The maps are available for public review online at nyc.gov/districting, and a physical copy will be displayed at the Manhattan Surrogate’s Court, 31 Chambers Street. Hearings are also scheduled in each of the five boroughs for Aug. 15, 16, 17, 18 and 22.


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