2010-12-10 / Editorial/Opinion
Reunite Rockaway In 2011
Twenty years ago, The Wave was filled with stories and letters about the reapportionment of the peninsula in light of the 1990 census. At the time, there was a move by the Democratic majority to create more “minority districts;” State Senate and Assembly districts and City Council districts that could be counted on to elect minority candidates. There were loud and powerful voices calling for an increase in minority representation in state and city government. Those who asked that Rockaway remain one district for state and city governmental purposes were heard less often and were sometimes branded as racist for their position. The reapportionment was done and Rockaway was split for both the Assembly and the City Council. The aim of having more minority representation was insured by the state taking every census tract with a majority of minorities and putting them in one district and taking every census tract with a majority of white voters and putting it in the other district. Many communities, Bayswater being the most egregious example, were split right down the middle, half in one district, half in the other. Now, it is 20 years later and it is time to redress that wrong. For the last 20 years, Rockaway has been the tail, not the dog. On the west end, the mainland portions of the district, in Howard Beach and South Ozone Park, have the numbers to be the controlling vote. On the east end, communities near JFK Airport – Rosedale and Laurelton to name a few – have the controlling vote. Rockaway becomes an afterthought even for officials who live in Rockaway. It is time to give Rockaway back what it needs – one representative in the City Council and one representative in the State Assembly. It matters not whether the person who fills that job is white, black or multicolored. One of anything will do the job. That fact is critical to Rockaway’s future and its revitalization.