A lot of noise has been made about the redistricting proposal submitted last week by the State Legislature. And, of course, most of the noise comes from people who have a problem with the plan.
We all know these maps are drawn by politicians with entrenched political interests, but they do affect local communities — for better or worse. Here’s one outsider’s observations about the plan with a community perspective from South Brooklyn, not based on Albany inside baseball.
Pertaining to the special election in Brooklyn to fill the senate seat vacated by the disgraced Carl Kruger, the buzz seems to be about two main issues: the coalescence of a predominantly Orthodox Jewish district, and the disassociation of Russian neighborhoods from the rest of Brooklyn, lumped instead with Staten Island and other areas.
On the first point, creating a district where the sphere of influence rotates mainly on the axis of Orthodox Jewish culture and values is a good idea. It makes sense. After all, the Orthodox Jewish community is among Brooklyn’s most politically active ethic communities and always has been.
The second issue has stirred more controversy. As a Russian immigrant to the United States myself, there is no other community I identify with more than the strong Russian areas of South Brooklyn. Charges have been made that the Legislature’s redistricting proposal breaks up these areas, and combines them piecemeal with other communities, thereby limiting the political clout of Brooklyn’s significant native Russian-speaking population.
Those who raise this charge make a valid point. The native Russian-speaking population shares common interests, values and heritage with the other neighborhoods currently comprised in the 27th District. Every effort should be made to keep these communities together and whole. In the end, a primarily Orthodox Jewish senate district is not mutually exclusive with the idea of keeping the native Russian-speaking population whole. In fact, the two ideas make a lot of sense when you put them together.
David Storobin is the Republican candidate in the March 20th special election to replace state Sen. Carl Kruger.