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NY redistricting: Voters flock to Steuben County to comment on future of New York’s legislative maps

Esmerelda Simmons  Bath hearing redistricting
Vaughn Golden
Esmerelda Simmons (left) is asking the judge and special master Jonathan Cervas (right) to hold more hearings over the state’s new legislative districts.

BATH, NY (WSKG) More than two dozen people from around New York state gathered at the Steuben County Courthouse Friday to provide input to the independent expert redrawing the state’s congressional and state Senate districts.

A number of different racial, religious and other communities showed up to express their thoughts on new legislative lines in the only hearing before the court-appointed special master, Carnegie Mellon University professor Jonathan Cervas.

Several people said they drove to the Village of Bath from New York City and Long Island – a nearly seven-hour commute for some.

They said making sure their communities were kept whole and had accurate representation in the state Legislature and Congress was important enough to make the trip, though several asked the court to consider opening up more hearings.

“I’m 71 years old, this is not something I like doing,” Esmerelda Simmons said laughing. “However, it’s important and it’s so important that we urge you, we urge you, we urge you to have more hearings.”

Sandra Choi, civic participation manager at MinKwon Center for Community Action in Flushing, Queens also made the trip to Steuben County. She spoke to keeping the Asian American community in Flushing together in new districts.

“Many choose Flushing as their home because of their access to a network of senior care centers, medical clinics, houses of worship, grocery stores and community service organizations like ours, MinKwon Center,” Choi said. “So it’s imperative that our communities be kept together on the state Senate and U.S. Congressional District lines and not be divided.”

The hearing comes the week after the New York State Court of Appeals ruled maps drawn by the Democratic-controlled Legislature to be unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.

The judge overseeing the case, Patrick McAllister, has ordered Cervas to present draft maps by May 16. He hopes to finalize them by May 20.