2009-03-06 / Editorial/Opinion

Peninsula Must Be Reunited As One Political Entity

Twenty years ago, the New York State Democratic Party had an idea that it believed would serve two purposes: insure more Democratic legislators and insure that more minorities would sit in both the Assembly and in the City Council. Since it was approaching the ten-year census, the politicians found it relatively easy to split longtime districts in half, picking up every minority census tract in the area to form districts that would guarantee the election of a minority candidate. That is how Rockaway got two City Council members and two Assembly members. In each case, the number of Rockaway voters in the district was overwhelmed by the voters in the remainder of the district. On the east end, Rockaway was the tail of the far larger dog called Rosedale and Laurelton. On the west end, Howard Beach and Ozone Park trumped the number of voters in Rockaway by a good margin. Rockaway suffered on both ends by the elected officials treating us as a poor cousin to the high-rollers on the mainland. That has to stop. Rockaway continues to grow despite the economic slowdown. In 1990, when the changes to our political subdivisions were made, Rockaway had 98,135 residents. At the end of 2007, the latest statistics available now, Rockaway had 129,531 residents. The point at which a community earns its own representation in the Assembly and in the Council seems to be approximately 150,000 - give or take a few thousand. The next census will be conducted in 2010. By that time, Rockaway should have the numbers it needs to see some changes in the way the peninsula is reapportioned. The time to begin working on this is now, and our civic leaders have to convince our elected leaders that Rockaway needs its own representation - now more than ever.

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