Zohran Mamdani’s Astoria Assembly District is undergoing significant change, 45% of the current district is gone
February 16, 2022 By Christian Murray
When the state legislature voted in favor of adopting the new district maps earlier this month, only one representative from Queens voted against, Assemblyman Zohran Mamdani.
Mamdani, a democratic socialist who represents the 36and The Assembly District in Astoria was the only state Senate or Queens Assembly member to vote against the new maps. In fact, he was only one of two Albany Democrats to oppose it, the other being Manhattan Rep. Yuh-Line Niou.
Mamdani district underwent significant changes when the maps were redrawn. The left-leaning assemblyman lost 45% of what is his current district, presumably taking over areas where more moderate Democratic voters reside.
Most of the Ditmars/Steinway area was moved from Mamdani’s 36th Ward to Jessica González-Rojas’ 34th Ward. Meanwhile, the neighborhood will now include large new areas, such as the three NYCHA developments – Astoria Houses, Queensbridge and Ravenswood – as well as the Court Square and Queens Plaza sections of Long Island City.
Mamdani said he was surprised by the scale of the change and expressed his disappointment at losing many voters with whom he has developed relationships.
However, he said, his vote against the new maps was primarily due to the lack of a unified assembly district for the South Asian community in eastern Queens. He had advocated for a unified district for South Asians that included the neighborhoods of Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park.
On Thursday I voted NO on the new maps for our state stage
As the first South Asian man elected to the Assembly, I have a duty to my community
These maps dissect the South Asian enclaves of Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park into 3 districts, excluding South Asians in the process pic.twitter.com/hzhIQG7jaA
— Zohran Kwame Mamdani (@ZohranKMamdani) February 7, 2022
“I have mixed feelings about what this does to my district,” Mamdani told the Assembly earlier this month.
“On the one hand I’m losing 45% of my existing neighborhood, while on the other hand it’s uniting my neighborhood with developing public housing…I’m now very proud to now represent Astoria Houses, Ravenswood and Queensbridge. “
But he took issue with the fact that the Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park areas remain divided into multiple assembly districts, diluting the voice of the South Asian community in those neighborhoods.
“While it’s an improvement over existing maps to go from seven different divisions of Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park to three…Three just isn’t good enough…They deserve to be in one united assembly district,” he told the assembly.
Mamdani noted that he is the first South Asian man elected to the Assembly and has a responsibility to look after the interests of these communities.
Major change at 36and Map of neighborhoods
Mamdani said he did not expect his district to undergo such a big change.
“I thought the changes would largely be cosmetic,” he said, surprised that 45% of his district would disappear.
Some political pundits say the new cards will make it harder for Mamdani to retain her seat in the Assembly, something Mamdani disagrees with.
It will lose progressive voters, observers say, while gaining voters more likely to be moderate. NYCHA residents, for example, tend to vote for moderate Democrats.
Mamdani, who has clashed with some of his fellow Democrats since taking office in January 2021, does not believe the district has been tweaked by party officials to undermine him. However, he acknowledges that many factors come into play when new maps are drawn.
“I’m sure some of my colleagues have challenged my policies and the way I practice them,” Mamdani said. “But I don’t think that was the motivating intent behind drawing these neighborhoods.”
He said the change in his district can be attributed to several factors, such as the establishment of a predominantly Asian assembly seat on its southeastern border. “There has been a change in [assembly] borders for that… and there have been ripple effects.
Mamdani, who beat Aravella Simotas in the 2020 Democratic primary by about 400 votes, said he did not feel vulnerable despite the new electoral lines.
“For those who think this is the death knell for me representing this district, they will be deeply disappointed.”
So far, no one has announced their intention to challenge him in the June 28 primary.
Mamdani said he believes his politics will also connect with voters in the new district.
“The struggles we have engaged in go beyond our neighborhoods…so they will be equally interested in partnering with me on issues such as eviction for good cause, passage of the public renewables and ensuring that we have a new deal for CUNY, because these are issues that affect every New Yorker.
“I also believe that my policy will also connect with the residents of Queensbridge, Ravenswood and Astoria Houses because, at its core, my policy is to ensure that the state provides dignity to each of its residents,” he said. declared.
He also noted that there is a tendency to paint some residents’ political ideology incorrectly with a broad brush.
He said Astoria Houses was a good example. Tiffany Cabán, a Democratic socialist, and Eric Adams, a moderate Democrat, both prevailed with voters during NYCHA’s development last year.
Richmond Hills and South Ozone Park
Mamdani’s vote in opposition to the maps was largely in protest that Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park were not combined into one unified district.
He said the South Asian communities in these two neighborhoods deserved to be part of a single assembly district.
He said the maps drawn up by the Independent Redistricting Commission — with significant public input through numerous hearings — united the two wards.
The commission was tasked with creating new district lines throughout the state, although its members could not come to a final agreement on how all lines should be drawn. Two duel maps were created, though both maps unified the two districts.
“The hours and hours of testimony that was provided at the public hearings, during the process of creating maps of the Independent Redistricting Commissions, all testified to the fact that this is a community that deserves to be in an assembly district,” Mamdani said. .
He said lawmakers, who rejected the maps proposed by the Independent Redistricting Commission, could have unified the areas when drafting their own map. He noted that the boundaries of many districts have undergone significant changes.
“There is a lot of leeway to move a neighborhood. Look what happened to my district.
He said politics played a part, noting that a unified area would have meant that six sitting assembly members would have lost those parts of their existing districts – and one member would have gotten the whole unified area. . Some members, he said, might not have wanted to lose that part of their district.
Also, he said, the assembly member who should have represented the unified zone might not have wanted to give up the existing zones. The legislator decided to split the neighborhoods into three.
Mamdani said the redistricting process is political since the legislature needs the votes for the maps to be approved. In the assembly, 100 of the 150 members must approve them for them to come into effect.
“Maps should be drawn in such a way as to get the necessary votes,” he said.
The Assembly voted 118 for the cards and 29 against. In the Senate, 43 of 63 senators approved them.