In Queens, Advocates Say Council Districts Split Asian Vote

As we have noted, the New York City Council’s Districting Commission has been holding hearings in each borough to gather public comment on the upcoming City Council redistricting process. In Queens, where the Asian-American population has grown dramatically in the last decade, organizations argued that Asian voting blocs have been split by district lines that break up neighborhoods, The World Journal reported. The article is translated from Chinese below.

Photo by Guy Tsui / World Journal

On the August 21, the New York City Council’s Districting Commission held a public hearing at the Queens Borough Public Library in Flushing, New York.  Many Asian-American organizations have argued that Bayside, Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park should be grouped together as a one election district in order to represent the interests of the community.

Before the public hearing, Asian American Community Coalition On Redistricting and Democracy held a meeting to encourage Districting Commission officials to not only consider the number of people, but also consider community interests when doing redistricting. They will work hard to make sure that Asian-Americans get elected to Congress after the redistricting, and that they will also succeed in City Council elections.

James Hong from ACCORD said that from 2000 to 2010, Queens’ Asian population has increased by 30.6 percent.  In that borough, Asians make up 22.8 of the whole population.  He said he hopes that when redistricting, the Council will consider the change in demographics, particularly in Bayside and Richmond Hill/South Ozone Park.

Glenn Magpantay from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund said that many in the area agree that Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park should be grouped together.  These two areas have more than 50,000 people of Indo-Caribbean descent. These ethnic groups have grown rapidly in recent years, though many came to the United States more than a hundred years ago to find work and settle in Richmond Hill. It is a special area that needs individualized attention, he said, but it is divided into four districts, which are grouped with areas heavily populated by African-Americans.

In Bayside, there are different opinions on redistricting.  Linda Lee from Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York said that Bayside should not have two City Council seats, District 19 and District 23. In particular, she said, the south side of Bayside is separated from the rest of the neighborhood into District 23, while many Koreans and Chinese, including herself, think of the area as Bayside.

District 23 City Councilman Dan Halloran said that redistricting is not simple, and that it must make sure that populations are evenly spread out.  District 20, for example, has more people than other districts in Queens, he said, and it must be reduced to take into account the populations in Districts 19, 20, 23 and 24.

Ethel Chen, a State Assembly candidate, said that many Chinese and Koreans do not understand English, so their district should not be reduced. Rather, she said, it should be expanded to put more Chinese and Koreans in one district.

James Trikas, who complained about Chinese and Korean signs in Flushing, argued that Asians should not take over any one district.  He wants to parcel out Queens so that no Asian group would dominate any particular district.

In addition to these issues, many participants in the public hearing said that the part of Flushing that is currently covered by District 19 should be integrated into District 20, to preserve the unity of Flushing.  Briarwood and Jamaica should be grouped together, others said, to reflect the neighborhood’s ethnic makeup, with its large Bangladeshi community.

Among the participants at the hearing were Justin Yu, chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce; Linda Lin, former president of the Asian American Bar Association; and Carl Hum, the president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

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