DANR & National Council Leaders Testify, Again, Before NYS Redistricting Task Force & Propose A Latino Congressional Map Uniting Washington Heights in Manhattan, the North West Bronx, and Corona / Jackson Heights in Queens
Washington, DC (February 1, 2012). Dr. Maria Teresa Feliciano, President of the Dominican American National Roundtable (DANR), Mr. Miguel Santana, DANR Chairman, and Mr. Nestor Montilla, Sr., Chairman of the National Dominican American Council, testified again, before members of the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment at a hearing held yesterday at the Bronx Museum of Arts.
They endorsed and proposed a 3rd Hispanic Congressional District uniting Washington Heights in Manhattan, the North West Bronx, and Corona / Jackson Heights in Queens. For a printable copy of the map proposal click here– Fair Representation NM – Bronx Congressional Districts – New Proposal (v10.0.0)-1
The proposal was agreed to by the Northern Manhattan and West Bronx Committee for Fair Representation and prepared by Jose Bello from GLACTION, LLC.
Following are transcripts of their testimonies:
Testimony of Dr. Maria Teresa Feliciano, President Dominican American National Roundtable before The NYS LEGISLATIVE TASK FORCE ON DEMOGRAPHIC RESEARCH AND
January 31, 2012
Good afternoon Co-Chairs SENATOR MICHAEL F. NOZZOLIO and MEMBER OF ASSEMBLYMAN JOHN J. MCENENY, TASK FORCE MEMBERS
On behalf of the Dominican American National Roundtable, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to again address the Task Force regarding the redistricting of New York’s Legislature and Congress.
Back in September I appeared before you and appealed to your sense of justice and fair play in the performance of your duties of adjusting the lines of the New York State Legislature, as well as the Congress, to comply with one-person, one-vote requirements for fair representation in any legislative body across the country.
I pointed out the astonishing growth of the Latino population in the United States, and in New York specifically. A growth that, according to the principles governing the redistricting process, should be reflected in the new maps.
Traditionally, our communities have been divided for partisan and incumbency reasons; our influence been diluted; and unfairly been subjected to substantive disadvantages.
Our communities deserve fair representation at all levels of government. We can only have this representation if legislative districts are drawn fairly.
We proposed a map for Senate district 31st that would have 60.7% Latino population, giving it the ability to elect a senator of their choice.
We are disappointed that this task force, moved towards “whitening” Senate District 31st, bringing it from 57% Latino to 56% Latino. We request that you reconsider, and reiterate our request to strengthen Latino influence in Senate District 31st by adding to it the Latino community from the west (Bronx), rather than extending it south to include a community that has little in common with Washington Heights.
Additionally, we propose a congressional district that will unite the communities of the West Bronx, Northern Manhattan, and Corona Queens, which encompasses fast growing Dominican-American populations that share communalities and challenges. Such district will be an appropriate response to the tremendous growth of our community in New York City, and can be created without negatively impacting other communities or violating any principles of fair apportionment.
An added and valuable benefit of creating this district will be bringing people into the political process that have previously been kept from it, and thus making government more representative of the people.
In a democracy, the principle of one person-one vote is a sacred concept. If the principle is to apply in New York, then ensuring a greater voice for Latinos in the halls of power is the greatest test facing this Task Force.
We look forward to working with the Committee to contribute in your effort to make sure that New York achieves a fair and constitutional redistricting.
Maria Teresa Feliciano, President
Dominican American National Roundtable
The Dominican-American National Roundtable (DANR) is a non-partisan, non-profit corporation seeking to bring together the different voices of all people of Dominican origin in the United States. DANR is a national forum for analysis, planning, and action to advance the educational, economic, legal, social, cultural, and political interests of Dominican Americans. It aims to ensure for U. S. Dominicans the full exercise of the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States of America. With those objectives in mind, DANR is committed to enriching the quality of life in the United States by highlighting the contributions of Dominicans to the larger American society.
Testimony of Mr. Nestor Montilla, Sr., President National Dominican American National Council, before The NYS LEGISLATIVE TASK FORCE ON DEMOGRAPHIC RESEARCH AND
January 31, 2012
Good afternoon Co-Chairs NOZZOLIO and MCENENY, MEMBERS of the TASK FORCE
On behalf of the National Dominican American Council I would like to thank you for the opportunity to again address the Committee regarding the redistricting of New York’s Legislature and Congress.
We have reviewed your released Assembly and Senate maps and, regarding Senate District 31, rather than increase the percentage of Latino population as we proposed back in September, you decreased it by almost 4 percentage points. We would like to reiterate our recommendation of increasing the Latino population of SD 31 to include the West Bronx community which shares many commonalities with the remaining of the district, and for reasons we outlined in our testimony back in September.
We would also like to submit for your consideration a proposal for a Congressional District that unites the Spanish speaking communities (sharing national origin, religion, economic ties, family ties) living in the corridor of: Corona, Queens to University Heights/Kingsbridge in the Bronx to Washington Heights in Manhattan, NY.
“Driving” Geography of the Proposed Hispanic Congressional District:
1)Broadway northbound from 140 street until 207 street . 2) From Broadway, 207 street in Manhattan, crossing the bridge eastward into W. Fordham Road and into Bronx and Pelham Parkway . 3) Hutchison River Parkway southbound crossing the Whitestone Bridge into Route 678 . 4) Northern Boulevard westbound until 77th street.
Neighborhoods within proposed Hispanic Congressional District
New York County:
• Hamilton Heights (Hispanic voting districts from 140th Street northbound Broadway)
• Washington Heights
• Marbel Hill
In Bronx County:
• University Heights
• Kingsbridge (south)
• Bedford Park – Fordham University – Bronx Zoo
• Morris Park
• Westchester (east)
• Throgs Neck – Locust point + Schuylerville
In Queens County
1) College Point
2) North Corona
4) Jackson Heights (east)
As we have indicated to you before, the Spanish Speaking population of the state of New York has grown exponentially in the last ten years, meriting the opportunity to elect their candidate of choice in an additional Majority-Minority Congressional Hispanic District. Spanish Speaking communities will be better represented in the US Congress by a Spanish Speaking Representative – if they choose and have the opportunity to elect one.
Immigrant communities from the Dominican Republic are one single community of interest mostly concentrated in three New York City neighborhoods: Corona in Queens, University Heights/Kingsbridge in the Bronx, and in Washington Heights in Manhattan.
The majority of the New York City and New York State Elected Officials from Dominican American origin represent constituencies from these three neighborhoods: two state senators, two state assembly representatives, and thee New York City Council Members.
Creating this Congressional District seems to be the most logical step towards affording this community fair and equitable representation.
We look forward to working with the Task Force to contribute in its effort to make sure that New York achieves a fair and constitutional redistricting.
Nestor Montilla, Sr., President
National Dominican American Council (NDAC)
The National Dominican American Council (NDAC) is a civic-community-engagement and public relations entity composed of over 120 local member councils in the United States and territories, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, with the role of setting the national agenda of the Dominican American National Roundtable and advocating for the socio-economic and political enfranchisement of all Latinos and Dominican-Americans in areas concerning education, economic development, health, immigration and community empowerment.
Testimony of DANR Chairman Mr. Miguel Santana, DANR Chairman:
Good Afternoon Members of the Task Force,
My name is Miguel Santana, Chair Man of the Dominican American National Roundtable and as a Bronx resident who lives at 3064 Bailey Ave., I want to thank you for the opportunity to address this body regarding the current redistricting process.
I request that in drawing the new legislative districts in the state of New York, you consider communities of common interests, more specifically the rapid growth of the Latino population. As per the 2010 Census, Latinos are the largest minority group in New York State and the new legislative map should reflect this change. This approach requires the creation of Majority Latino Districts or Latino Opportunity Districts that will allow us to elect candidates of our choice in numbers commensurate with our population.
Until the early 1980s, Hispanic representation in Congress lingered in the single digits. The gains in Hispanic office-holding during the 1980s and 1990s can be attributed in part to the passage and implementation of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The VRA facilitated the establishment of numerous majority-minority districts, in which minority voters constitute a majority of the relevant population, be it total population, voting-age population (VAP), or citizen voting-age population (CVAP).
The electoral benefits of majority-minority districts became evident after the 1990 round of redistricting. State legislatures constructed ten new majority-Latino districts, and shortly thereafter seven Hispanic freshmen joined the House of Representatives.
Justice O’Connor defended this radical change in section 5 by citing five sociological studies that she claimed suggested that “the most effective way to maximize minority voting strength may be to create more influence or coalitional districts.” The majority-minority districts remain the primary means through which Hispanic communities can elect their preferred candidates.
Today we have three communities of common interest that join our Latino population. These communities are Washington Heights in Manhattan, the North West Bronx, and Corona / Jackson Heights in Queens. The common thread that bonds these communities together are their educational trajectory, social consciousness and entrepreneurial spirit. Collectively they fuel the local economy through the development and patronage of small businesses such as, barber shops, beauty salons, multi services, grocery stores, supermarkets, pharmacies and car services.
In closing, I ask you to approve a new legislative map that joins the Latino population of Washington Heights, the North West Bronx, and Corona / Jackson Heights communities of Queens. Ultimately, establishing a majority Latino district will provide us the opportunity to elect a congress member of our choice.