2009-10-30 / Editorial/Opinion

Make Rockaway Whole Once Again

Nearly 20 years ago, Rockaway was split down the middle like a ripe pear by our Democratic politicians in order to seat more minority legislators in both the City Council and Assembly. Prior to that time, Rockaway had its own representatives in both of those bodies. After the reapportionment, however, Rockaway became the tail to much larger dogs on the mainland. On the west end, our Assembly and City Council districts include Howard Beach and South Ozone Park, two communities that have the votes to override Rockaway voters. On the east end, the voters in Rosedale, Laurelton and Springfield Gardens. Rockaway has the minority of votes in each district and is therefore politically challenged. The November 3 election provides a good perspective on the problem. In the west end district there are two mainland candidates, two men who are beholden more to their constituencies in their home area than they are to Rockaway. On the east end we have a Rockaway candidate who has been in office for eight years and has done little for Rockaway. Next week, for example, he will host a massive Hallo ween party for his young constituents. Where will it be held? In Laurelton's Brookville Park. Audrey Pheffer, who represents the west end of the peninsula, lives in Bayswater. Half of that community is in her district, the rest in the district represented by Michelle Titus. Cross Mott Avenue in Bayswater and you move from one district to the other. There is no practical reason for splitting a cohesive community in that way. Rockaway needs its own representatives in both the City Council and the Assembly in order to regain the political clout it lost 20 years ago. We have been told that the peninsula needs approximately 150,000 inhabitants in the next census, which will be held in 2010. We will probably have upwards of 135,000, if the growth curve of recent years continues. It is time to plan for Rock away's revitalization and to do that, we need our own political representatives.

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