2012-03-30 / Letters

Redistricting Thoughts

Dear Editor,

While everyone is focusing on the pending reapportionment of New York State Assembly, State Senate and Congressional district boundaries, there is another which will impact all 51 New York City Council districts. “Keep The New Congressional Lines” (Editorial — March 16). It will have a direct impact on the two remaining NYC Queens GOP Council members Dan Hallaran and Eric Ulrich elected in 2009. They both face even more difficult challenges ahead if they are to be elected to a second term in 2013. Remember in the 1990s under former Mayor Giuliani, Republicans held a record seven Council seats. Queens residents in 1991 and again in 2005 sent three GOPers, Mike Abel (Dan Halloran won the seat back in 2009); Alfonse Stabile (Eric Ulrich did likewise winning both a Special and General election in 2009) and Thomas Olgibene (who was unable to stage a successful return in 2009). All three – Abel, Stabile and Olgibene – were joined by Charles Millard and Andrew Eristoff of Manhattan, Martin Golden of Brooklyn and Fred Cerillo of Staten Island resulting in a record seven Republican Council members. You would have to go back 50 years or more to the old NYC Board of Alderman, which preceded the NYC Council to find that many Republicans holding similar office.

The upcoming NYC Council Districting Commission will draw new Council district boundaries based upon the 2010 census. Their action could determine future political survival for both remaining Queens GOP Council members. The commission will be composed of fifteen members. Mayor Michael Bloomberg appoints seven, Democratic Council Speaker Christine Quinn five and Republican Minority Council leader James Oddo three. The two remaining GOP Queens Council amigos – Halloran and Ulrich need to obtain a commitment from Bloomberg, Quinn and Oddo that their appointees to the redistricting commission will promise that the drawing of new district boundaries will insure fair contests when they stand for a second term in 2013. Otherwise, they could just as easily be gerrymandered out of public office. Just accepting lulus for chairing Council committees, member item pork barrel spending or naming streets after dead people from Speaker Quinn will not be enough to win a second term.

Even with fair districts, both Halloran and Ulrich will face difficult reelection contests in 2013. There may be no serious Republican Mayoral, NYC Comptroller or Public Advocate candidates with adequate financing to run real races providing political coattails for local GOP Council candidates. Halloran and Ulrich will have an even steeper road to climb. Their respective Democratic Party opponents start off with overwhelming numbers of registered Democrats. Worse, the Queens Democratic Party machine in 2013 may also face no real GOP challenges for Borough President, District Attorney and other local Council races. This could leave them free to send in hundreds of club house volunteers and provide whatever financial assistance is necessary to insure victory for their respective candidates in these last two remaining districts being seriously contested by Republicans. Democrats will be assisted by friendly labor unions offering their own endorsements, volunteers, mailings, phone banks and financial support. Queens County Congress member and Democratic Party boss Joseph Crowley will want to win these two additional seats. They would assist him to place one of his own as the next incoming NYC Council Speaker. The 2013 elections will be the Queens GOP’s political equivalent of General Custer’s last stand at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

LARRY PENNER

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