As delays and uncertainty persist in the redistricting process in Albany, support is growing for a new majority Latino congressional district in New York City.
Pols and advocates have been rallying this month in an effort to pressure the state to draw a majority Latino district that would include parts of upper Manhattan, the west Bronx, and Corona and Jackson Heights in Queens. Advocates say this district would unite communities of interest and give a stronger voice to the city’s Latino population which has grown dramatically over the last decade. (Latinos make up the city’s largest minority group at 29 percent of the total 8.1 million population).
On Friday, public advocate and likely mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio sent out a statement in support of this Latino district — which would be the third in the city.
Yesterday, pols and civic groups marched from Washington Heights to the Bronx to bring attention to the campaign. The Dominican Ambassador Roberto Saladin has also come out in support of the plan, and today City Comptroller John Liu, another expected 2013 mayoral candidate, spoke in favor of the congressional district at a Dominican Independence Day event.
Runnin’ Scared spoke this afternoon with City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who represents parts of upper Manhattan and who has been vocal in the push for this new district. Rodriguez — who tipped us off about Liu’s statements — said that those seeking citywide office must get behind this plan.
“It should not take anything more than looking at the numbers…The numbers are there that justify the creation of a Latino congressional seat,” Rodriguez said, talking to two reporters at an event at City College. “The numbers should be used to draw the lines and it should reflect the population in the city, and I hope that we will be able to get the support from all my colleagues in government.”
“Today at the Dominican Independence Day, John Liu said publicly there that he believes that it is time, that he believes in a Latino congressional seat,” Rodriguez said, adding that de Blasio and Bill Thompson, another mayoral hopeful, have offered their support. “I hope that anyone that is looking to get into citywide [office] understands that this is an important decision. This is an important issue for the community, and we will be looking very carefully on where people stand.”
After a reporter from Capital New York asked about longtime Congressman Charlie Rangel’s seat — which could be impacted by this new Latino district — Rodriguez said, “We are working to create a Latino congressional seat, respecting the African-American congressional seat held by Charlie Rangel…We’ve been from the beginning supporting this African-American community to maintain this seat that belongs to them. Harlem is a symbol of the African-American community nationwide and they should have the numbers to be sure that that seat is held by one of them.”
For the mayoral hopefuls, supporting this district is one way to appeal to Latino voters.
De Blasio’s statement last week said, “Our State Legislature has the historic opportunity to create a third Congressional District to affirm the right of the growing Latino community to elect the candidates of its choice, without significant changes to current ‘majority-minority’ Congressional districts.”
Runnin’ Scared has reached out to Liu’s office and will update if we hear back.