Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams has called for the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) to draw district boundaries that ensure “fair, accurate representation” in testimony submitted as part the ongoing redistricting process, particularly for communities that have been marginalized and underrepresented through the process in the past.
Williams noted in his testimony that delays in state funding had stunted the process.
“Given the time-sensitive nature of the redistricting process, it is unacceptable that state funding was not disbursed to the Independent Redistricting Commission until very recently,” he said. “To be clear, in Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021, the governor should have taken steps to ensure that the IRC was able to have the necessary time and funds to hire staff, conduct public outreach, and perform its core functions.
“Because the governor failed to do so, the IRC is now working on a compressed timeline that has presented understandable complications, the added. “The commission must now take swift action to ensure all necessary work can occur before its first map proposals are due. It must make significant improvements to its operations.”
The public advocate also urged the commission to engage the public transparently and release its draft maps as soon as possible in order that future hearings can be informed and effective, saying: “Public participation in events such as this hearing is the only way that the IRC will be able to identify ‘communities of interest’ groups with shared policy concerns that would benefit from being maintained together in a single district.”
Williams said that “New Yorkers should play their part in informing their neighbors about this redistricting, especially elected officials and community-based organizations that have strong and lasting relationships with residents.”