New Congressional Maps Shuffle Manhattan District Borders

Some cry “jerrymandering” over redraw of Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s winding District 10

| 04 Feb 2022 | 06:13

Manhattan’s borders have been shuffled, thanks to newly drawn maps of New York’s congressional districts released by Democratic leaders in Albany on January 30 and approved by Governor Kathy Hochul on Thursday.

The new maps show Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s District 10 stopping one block short of Central Park on the Upper West Side at Columbus Avenue until West 85th Street, where it crosses over to include the Central Park Reservoir. Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s District 12 now extends westward from the Upper East Side to include Central Park and a block-wide portion of the Upper West Side from West 85th Street and Columbus Avenue, southward.

Further south, parts of Chelsea, the West Village, Greenwich Village and SoHo now lie not in District 10 but in District 12, the border of which has been bumped westward to Ninth Avenue, following Hudson Street southward for a stretch before ultimately reaching Thomas Street and then snaking back north. The Lower East Side and Alphabet City are now excluded from District 12.

District boundaries last for ten years before they’re redrawn, following the U.S. census cycle, and both Nadler and Maloney are currently seeking re-election.

“Congresswoman Maloney is excited to welcome any and all new voters and constituents into the future NY-12,” Campaign Manager Sophia Brown told Our Town in a statement prior to the passing of the new district lines. “She looks forward to running a strong campaign focused on her progressive record and rooted in the communities she is proud to represent.”

Increasing Democrats’ Odds

The latest congressional district changes come after a convoluted process that began in 2014, when it was voted that a redistricting commission would decide on new maps; In the end, the redrawing was left to Democrats, according to multiple reports, after the commission failed to reach an agreement in January. Since their proposal, changes throughout the state have drawn attention for seemingly increasing Democrats’ odds in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections and beyond.

“With the stroke of a pen they can gain three seats and eliminate four Republican seats,” national elections analyst Dave Wasserman told the New York Times. “It’s probably the biggest shift in the country.”

Rep. Nadler’s district — District 10 — now snakes through parts of Brooklyn in a path more winding than before. Where it once traveled south to include parts of Borough Park and Mapleton, it now trails further north into Boerum Hill before hitting Windsor Terrace, Borough Park and Bensonhurst. On Twitter, some have proclaimed it a case of “jerrymandering,” riffing on the congressman’s first name.

Nadler did not offer comment on gerrymandering, instead telling Our Town in a statement, “I look forward to continuing to represent the great people of the 10th Congressional District for years to come. It is a diverse and culturally rich collection of communities of interest.”

Gerrymandering, according to Columbia Law School Professor Richard Briffault, occurs “when a legislature has consciously focused on the design of the districts to produce certain outcomes.” Districts must be contiguous and equal in population size, while also keeping communities with shared interests intact. While zigzag district lines are one “basis for inquiry” into gerrymandering — since they are “clearly drawn intentionally,” according to Briffault — the case of District 10 might not be so malicious.

“I think what you see looking at that map, as strange as it is,” Briffault said, “is an effort to create a district that doesn’t disturb the nearby districts, which have Latino or African American majorities.”

“Congresswoman Maloney is excited to welcome any and all new voters and constituents into the future NY-12.” Campaign Manager Sophia Brown