Redistricting Round Two: City Council Pushes Forward With New Commission Picks


The City Council today announced the key figures who will be charged with dividing up the city into new districts based on Census data.

It’s the next redistricting frontier!

The announcement of the Council’s appointments comes on the same day that important news broke in the statewide redistricting battle: The Senate Democrats’ lawsuit attempting to throw out the Republicans’ plan was blocked this morning by the highest court in the state, the New York Court of Appeals. The Senate Dems were going after the Republicans’ addition of a 63rd State Senate Seat, arguing that the addition is unconstitutional, but today the court upheld a lower court’s ruling and unanimously agreed that the methods of the Legislature don’t amount to a “gross and deliberate violation of the plain intent of the Constitution.”

At the more local level, the City Council this morning unveiled the names of those who will serve on an independent commission charged with redrawing lines for the city’s 51 City Council districts, based on Census data collected in 2010. Redistricting advocates have been anticipating the picks for the commission, which is made up of 15 members — eight appointed by the City Council and seven by the mayor’s office.

Five appointments come from the Council’s Democratic Caucus, the majority, and three come from the minority caucus, the Council said in a release sent out today. As City & State noted this morning , the process is closer to the bipartisan efforts that some had hoped would happen in Albany, where the redistricting process remained highly partisan.

The commission must include at least one resident from each borough, and a spokesperson told us earlier this year that the Council is committed to choosing members that reflect the geographic, ideological, and ethnic diversity in the city.

The appointees, from the Council press release:

The Council Democratic Caucus appointments are:

Jamila Ponton Bragg
Ms. Bragg is an Educational Outreach Manager at Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind Sesame Street. Ms. Bragg serves as a commissioner on the New York City Lobbying Commission. Since 2004, Ms. Bragg has taught Sunday school to 9th and 10th grade students at the Abyssinian Baptist Church. Ms. Bragg earned a Masters’ degree at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and a Bachelor of Science degree at Duke University. Ms. Bragg is a resident of Morningside Heights.

Linda Lin
Ms. Lin is a senior attorney with Liberty International Underwriters and a former Associate of the law firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Ms. Lin is the President of the Asian American Bar Association of New York. She is the former law clerk for U.S. District Judge Dora L. Irizarry. She is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School and Binghamton University. She resides in Forest Hills, Queens.

John Robert
For twenty eight years, Mr. Robert served as a Community Board Member and District Manager of Community Board #2 in the Bronx. He was an administrator at Harlem Hospital and the South Bronx Mental Health Council. Mr. Robert earned a Masters’ Degree from Polytechnic Institute of New York; he is a graduate of the City University of New York. Mr. Robert resides in the Pelham section of the Bronx.

Roxanne J. Persaud
Ms. Persaud is the Registrar at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. Prior to her current position, she was an administrator at Pace University. Ms. Persaud is a member of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. She earned a Bachelors and a Master’s degree at Pace University. She lives in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn.

Robert W. Hart
Mr. Hart works in digital media publishing and is a former journalist. As a reporter for the Staten Island Advance, Mr. Hart covered local breaking news, crime, and national assignments. Mr. Hart was appointed to Albany Bureau Chief, directing the Advance’s state government coverage. Mr. Hart is a graduate of SUNY Purchase; he resides in the West Brighton section of Staten Island.

The Council Minority Caucus appointments are:

Kamillah M. Hanks
Ms. Hanks is the former Executive Director of the Downtown Staten Island Council and led the organization’s effort to drive the economic development and commercial revitalization of the Downtown Staten Island Business District. She has served as a marketing and public relations consultant for the Staten Island Museum and the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation. Ms. Hanks is a graduate of the College of Staten Island. She resides on Staten Island.

Thomas V. Ognibene
Mr. Ognibene is a former Council Member and Council Minority Leader. During his tenure at the Council Mr. Ognibene chaired the Select Committee on Veteran’s Affairs and served as a member of the Council’s Finance, Housing and Buildings, General Welfare, and Aging Committees. He formerly served on the New York City Lobbying Commission. Mr. Ognibene has extensive experience practicing civil and criminal law. He is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School and C.W. Post College. He is a Queens resident.

Marc Wurzel
Mr. Wurzel is the General Counsel and Assistant Secretary of the Grand Central Partnership. He served as a Commissioner on the NYC Districting Commission in 2002-2003. Mr. Wurzel earned a B.A. degree from George Washington University and a J.D. from Hofstra University School of Law. He resides in Manhattan.