East Harlem Town Hall Meeting Lets Residents Sound Off on Redistricting

East Harlem Town Hall Meeting Lets Residents Sound Off on Redistricting
Thursday, January 3, 2013

 By Jeff Mays, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

HARLEM — Revised changes proposed for the City Council's district lines restored La Marqueta to District 8, but East Harlem Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito says that's not enough.

Approximately 30 blocks of her current district would be left out of the proposed map, which will incorporate the area into a massive district that also includes a large section of the Bronx. A hearing of the city’s Districting Commission is scheduled for Jan. 7, but Mark-Viverito is hosting a town hall hearing about the changes Thursday night.

"The district came out strong in reaction to the original set of changes," said Mark-Viverito. "Over 200 community members said the preservation of a community of interest was critical."

In addition to the 30 blocks of the current District 8 that would be lost, the district would also lose Randall's Island while expanding further into the Bronx.

Mark-Viverito, a leading candidate to replace Council Speaker Christine Quinn, has criticized the new lines as a political move to reduce her chances of becoming speaker. Fellow Harlem Councilwoman Inez Dickens is also mentioned as a top contender for the job of speaker.

"This is a political move and the community should not be played with in that way,"  Mark-Viverito said.

The Districting Commission has already faced criticism for a last-minute change that would have helped disgraced Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

Commission leaders maintain the group is independent, but that has been questioned. The board reversed the change that would have helped Lopez.
John Medina, a community leader for Community Voices Heard, said East Harlem residents are concerned that making the district so Bronx-heavy will mean that they will be ignored in the new district.

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