This week's meeting of the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment didn't get much press coverage, but it was the scene of what could be said to be an opening shot in the battle to preserve (or enhance) Jewish voting power as the Empire State gets ready to redraw its state and federal district maps.
Brooklyn City Councilman David Greenfield, who represents most of Borough Park and part of Flatbush, told the committee that his two neighborhoods are now represented by six state senators. They'd like to have no more than three. Two would be optimal, he said.
Evidently the community does not agree that having six senators soliciting Orthodox votes as part of their electoral strategy is better than having two or three senators for whom their support is an absolute necessity.
"Simply put, the current state Senate lines have gerrymandered the community out of any real influence in the Senate," said Greenfield, who was a lobbyist for the Sephardic Community Federation in his last job, pushing state legislators for measures that help private school families pay tuition.
Greenfield told the panel, which is holding hearings throughout the state to solicit input, that the heavily Orthodox communities should be further consolidated to give them more voting power, taking into consideration the extensive growth in the area, labeled Community District 12 in the U.S. Census.
Much more of this drama will play out in the next year or so as the Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo try to balance political advantage for their parties with the demands of the populations for more clout.
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