The City is in the midst of redrawing council district boundaries to reflect the results of the 2010 Census. In a prior post on this subject, I described the population and demographic changes in New Rochelle that require us to complete the redistricting process in a timely fashion. I also shared a presentation outlining a draft redistricting plan, submitted by myself and three other members of the City Council.

Yesterday, there were several developments in this process.

First, the Council conducted a public hearing, during which speakers offered support, criticism, and suggestions.

Second, I and the other Council Members who drafted the redistricting proposal introduced amendments to the plan. The revisions are quite small in the context of the overall City map, but may be of great interest to two neighborhoods:

  1. in response to input from the Residence Park neighborhood association, we suggested shifting several census blocks, so that the neighborhood is more fully contained within two council districts; and
  2. in response to input from residents of Sycamore Park and to comments at our April 8th Council meeting, we suggested uniting the Sycamore Park neighborhood fully within a single council district.

As a result of these changes, council districts 1 and 2 would become slightly more compact, and all but two neighborhoods in New Rochelle would be entirely or significantly united. Our suggested revisions are illustrated here, and our PowerPoint presentation has been revised to incorporate these amendments.

Lastly, two different alternative redistricting plans were released. One is offered on behalf of the Republican Members of the City Council. You can view it here. The other, displayed here, was presented by a group of residents.

I have not yet had an opportunity to examine these alternatives in detail, but will, of course, be open-minded to constructive suggestions. On a cursory inspection, I can see some features in these plans that, in my opinion, make sense and others than don’t. And that’s the be expected. After all, any redistricting plan will involve trade-offs and compromises, none can achieve every desired objective, and as much as every advocate would like to believe that their map is the prettiest, the truth is that all of them are rather funny-looking.

The whole redistricting process can be a little confusing to those who do not follow it closely (a description that probably applies to 99% of our residents). There are a bewildering array of claims and counter-claims, citations of law and statistics, and unfamiliar acronyms, plus a healthy and unfortunate dose of plain old partisan politics. Sometimes the rhetoric gets a little overheated and the facts get pushed aside.

The best approach is to examine a plan in its totality and decide which arrangement best and most fairly accomplishes the greatest number of legitimate community goals. A transparent, professional, clear, and open presentation of goals, features, and methods has been my intent from the beginning, and I hope that our presentation can be helpful is offering some clarity to the discussion.

There will be another public hearing on this issue, tentatively planned for the first week of May, and the Council will (and must) wrap up its work by May 10th at the latest.