Feb. 3, 2022 By Christian Murray
The electoral landscape of Long Island City and Astoria is about to undergo significant change with the adoption of new district maps.
The new maps, which were drawn by the Democratically-controlled state Senate and Assembly, were released earlier this week—with Astoria’s State Sen. Michael Gianaris chairing the legislative task force that drew the new lines.
The Democrats, including Gianaris, have come under criticism for allegedly gerrymandering the state and congressional districts to their benefit. The Democrats have supermajorities in both the Assembly and Senate and have been able to draw them without requiring the support of state Republicans.
Gianaris maintains that the maps are an accurate reflection of the state—and that they comply with strict legal requirements.
“These are districts that are drawn fairly,” Gianaris told Brian Lehrer of WNYC Tuesday, saying that any oddly configured districts are merely correcting Republican gerrymandering in the past.
The Democratic legislature gained control of the map-drawing process since the independent redistricting commission—that was mandated by a 2014 voter referendum—failed to reach an agreement on the lines.
The criticism has largely dealt with the change to the Congressional districts, where Democrats currently hold 19 of New York’s 27 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The eight seats currently held by Republicans, analysts say, are likely to become four as a result of the redistricting—and the state losing a seat stemming from the 2020 census.
Gianaris defended the maps and said that voters will still have the final say as to who is elected.
“Look, the important thing to realize is New York is a deep blue state. We all know this, it’s well known nationally,” Gianaris said, when he defended the lines on the Brian Lehrer Show. “It shouldn’t be a surprise that when maps are done fairly, there’s going to be a result that reflects that reality on the ground.”
The changes to the maps in western Queens are also significant—although they are not likely to change the balance of power in either Washington or Albany.
However, they will have a significant impact on the Democratic primaries, where moderate Democrats face stiff competition from progressives.
Many Astoria and Long Island City residents, given the changing maps, will find themselves in new Congressional, Assembly and/or Senate districts.
A vast swath of Astoria that has been represented by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in the 12th District will now be part of the 14th District currently represented by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (click for maps).
Maloney will shed significant portions of Astoria where many young progressives live.
She will, however, keep the areas west of 31st Street and south of 31st Avenue. Therefore, the 12th district will still include Ravenswood and Queensbridge—NYCHA developments where residents tend to be more moderate than progressive. The Astoria Houses will also remain part of the 12th congressional district.
The New York Times reported in September—without naming sources—that Maloney was pushing Democrats in the state legislature to cut out the progressive parts of her district. The new district has also seen the loss of Williamsburg.
Maloney narrowly beat progressive candidate Suraj Patel in a contested primary in 2020. She garnered 42 percent of the vote to Patel’s 40 percent.
She has announced she is running again this year. Rana Abdelhamid and Jesse Cerrotti, both progressives from Astoria, have already announced they are vying for the seat as well. There are two other democrats in the race, Maya Contreras and Vladimy Joseph.
Meanwhile, in the state Assembly, many Astorians represented by Democratic Socialist Zohran Mamdani in the 36th district (click for maps) will find that they will be part of the 34th district— currently represented by Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas.
Most of the Ditmars/Steinway area has been moved from Mamdani’s 36th district to González-Rojas’ 34th district.
Mamdani’s 36th district has undergone significant change. The district will now include vast new areas—such as Queensbridge, Ravenswood and Astoria Houses as well as the Court Square/Queens Plaza section of Long Island City.
These areas have been part of District 37, currently occupied by Assembly Member Cathy Nolan.
It is unclear what the changes will mean for Mamdani—who beat Aravella Simotas in the 2020 democratic primary for the seat by approximately 400 votes.
The 37th District, which currently snakes from Ridgewood up to Astoria Houses (click for maps), will become more compact. It will no longer go into Astoria—and the Long Island City component of the district will primarily be Hunters Point. The remainder of Long Island City will be in the 36th District.
Meanwhile, Gianaris’ Senate seat (click for maps) has also changed.
He will still cover Astoria but will no longer cover Long Island City south of the Queensboro Bridge. Therefore, he will no longer represent Court Square and Hunters Point, which includes the location where the Amazon campus was planned to go.
His district, while more compact, takes in parts of Manhattan for the first time.
Long Island City—south of the Queensboro Bridge—will now be part of Senate District 17, a whole new senate seat, which will also cover portions of Sunnyside, Maspeth, Glendale, Woodhaven and Richmond Hill.
The district is multiracial, with approximately 38 percent of residents identifying as Hispanic, about 31 percent white, and around 19 percent Asian, according to 2020 Census data.
Just one day after the new district was announced, DSA organizer and Long Island City tech worker Kristen Gonzalez said she was running. Gonzalez was born and raised in Elmhurst.
The primaries for these newly configured seats will take place in late June.
The incumbents and their challengers will begin gathering signatures to be on the ballot starting next month.
Something tells me if the Republicans did this it would be “Systemic Racism” suppressing voters and their votes as they said this time and time again when referring to Virginia.
New Yorkers voted overwhelmingly, in “a deep blue state” that we did not want gerrymandered districts drawn to keep old incumbent politicians in power.
With the “old” districts supposedly favoring Republicans, voters elected Democrat majorities in the US congress, NY Senate and Assembly and City Council. But it was a “fair” fight. Now, districts drawn by the politicians themselves will ensure they each get to stay. These professional politicians represent nobody but themselves and have engineered the map to make sure they can stay in office forever. It is exactly what New Yorkers voted against a decade ago. Bah!