As you may have heard or read, this week a NY Court of Appeals ruling has struck down district lines for Congressional seats as well as State Senate seats that were redrawn earlier this year by the State legislature. In addition, the County Legislature’s Commission on Reapportionment released a map of new County Legislative Districts this week with, we think, very negative implications for Gardiner.
Congressional and State Senate Districts Ruled Unconstitutional
New York’s highest court, the NY Court of Appeals, issued its ruling on Wednesday, to the shock and dismay of Democrats all over the state as well as all over the country, as detailed in this NY Times article. It held that the lines drawn by the State Senate and State Assembly earlier this year for State Senate and for U.S. Congress were unconstitutional and failed to comply with a NYS constitutional amendment passed in 2014 to curb partisan gerrymandering. State Assembly districts were NOT affected by the ruling.
The court’s decision also thew into question (as it did not address) any modification to the state’s election schedule (with a primary scheduled for June 28) necessary to comply with the ruling. Here is what we know, based on information received by the Gardiner Democratic Committee from Ashley Dittus, our Democratic Elections Commissioner:
- The current plan is to hold, as planned, the June 28th primary for those contests not affected by the court ruling. This includes statewide offices (Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, U.S. Senate, etc.) as well as any Assembly districts with contests, including the race for Assembly District 103 in which incumbent Assemblyperson Kevin Cahill is being challenged by inexperienced newcomer Sarahana Shrestha of the Democratic Socialists of America. Also as planned, Democrats will be voting members of the County Democratic Committee.
- The court ruling requires new districts for State Senate and U.S. Congress to be drawn by an independent “Special Master,” who will be Jonathan Cervas, a redistricting expert at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Cervas is well regarded and must produce new maps by May 20.
- There will be an additional primary held sometime in August (possibly on August 23rd) for the State Senate and U.S. Congress. When the new district lines are known, Gardiner Dems will need to repetition to get our candidates on the new ballot. So, you can expect another round of door knocking by members of our committee to get your signatures on new petitions. When that will happen, we do not know.
- We also do not know whether Gardiner will fall into our current Congressional District 19 (currently represented by incumbent Antonio Delgado, endorsed for reelection by the Ulster County Democratic Committee) or some other congressional district. Neither do we know whether we will continue to be in the previously planned State Senate District 48 (represented by incumbent Michelle Hinchey, endorsed by the Ulster County Dems) or some other Senate District. That’s up to the Special Master, who has until May 20 to issue his determinations.
None of this is ideal for Democrats. Getting voters out for two primaries as well as a general (off-presidential year) election in 2022 is a heavy lift that no one had planned for. It is more work for our committee as well as for voters who want to exercise their civic duty. It will undoubtedly affect turnout in a negative way. Moreover, the new districts to be drawn by the Special Master will likely not favor Democratic candidates, making it more difficult for our party to hold the U.S. House of Representatives in the fall election.
More Bad: Gardiner is Split in Two by Draft County Reapportionment Map
To make matters worse for Gardinerites, this week we found out that the County Legislature’s Reapportionment Commission, charged with re-drawing new County Legislature districts in the wake of the 2020 Census, has—in its DRAFT plan—for the first time in history split Gardiner into two county legislative districts.
The northern approximately one-third of Gardiner will be lumped into a legislative district (proposed legislative district 17) with most of New Paltz, while the southern two-thirds of Gardiner will be combined with a much larger portion of Shawangunk than was previously included in legislative district 16, currently represented by U.C. Legislature Chairperson, Tracey Bartels. As such, the new LD 16 is much more red and thus much more likely to flip to the Republicans.
If this final draft map is implemented, it will change election districts within Gardiner and it is very likely that those voters lumped in with New Paltz will have to go to New Paltz to vote. In addition to the fact that Gardiner issues and interests are not New Paltz issues and interests, we feel changing voting locations for a large part of our town is a great imposition on Gardiner voters.
Before the changes are implemented, however, there are two opportunities for public comment. They are as follows:
- Monday, May 16 – 7:00 PM – Public Hearing – Turtle Creek Golf Course, 219 Plattekill, Ardonia Road, Wallkill, NY
- Thursday, May 19 – 7:00 PM – Public Hearing – Saugerties Senior Center, Cantine Memorial Field, 207 Market St., Saugerties, NY
The Gardiner Democratic Committee is hoping for a strong showing at BOTH comment sessions to testify to the negative impacts on Gardiner of the proposed map and to propose new configurations leaving Gardiner whole. If you are interested in attending one or both sessions, you are encouraged to attend the meeting of the GDC on Thursday, May 5 at 7:00 pm in the Gardiner town hall and/or contact GDC Chair Tom Kruglinski at firstname.lastname@example.org. There will also be a Zoom option for this meeting. If you would like login information, please contact Tom.