The New York Districting Commission has been working on redrawing City Council districts, and now they’ve released the first draft maps. AAFE is advocating to make sure the voices of New York’s growing Asian communities are heard loud-and-clear.  The 2012 Census showed that there are now more than one-million Asian Americans living in New York.  AAFE believes opportunities for political representation have not kept pace with this tremendous population growth.

AAFE supports the proposed revisions to Districts 1, 2, and 3 in Manhattan that more-or-less keep the boundaries intact.  The current configuration allows each major ethnic group to keep the integrity of their neighborhoods whole without pitting different constituencies against one another.  The current districts respect the Voting Rights Act and ensure that minority groups are not forced into a “zero-sum-gain” in which representation of one group comes at the expense of another.

“We appreciate that the Commission has preserved most of Districts 1, 2, and 3 in its current form, which will allow opportunities for the Asian, Latino, and LGBT communities to elect their own representatives and avoid contentious fights that have recently occurred in other city races,” said Christopher Kui, executive director of AAFE.  “The creation of Districts 1, 2, and 3 were based in a decision the Redistricting Committee made twenty years ago.  With tremendous foresight, the Committee created three districts (1, 2, and 3) so that major pluralities were able to achieve political representation without impinging on each other. We need to apply the success of these districts in Manhattan to other boroughs.”

In 2011, AAFE released a report, “Distinct Places: Shared Opportunities,” which found that the Asian population of New York City is centered in 20 community districts.  More than three-quarters of the city’s Asian population lives in these areas.  In nine of these districts, Asians make up at least 25% of the population.  Despite this growth, there are currently only two Asian Americans in the New York City Council out of a total of 51 seats.

AAFE Executive Director Chris Kui testified before the Districting Commission in Brooklyn and Manhattan. To read more about his testimony, click here.

The next round of public hearings will come in the first two weeks of October. A revised map must be submitted to the City Council by November.