By Howard Koplowitz
State Sens. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) and Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) may need to sign up for dance lessons if newly proposed district maps are approved because they will be doing the shuffle.
“It looks like a switcheroo,” Huntley said in a telephone interview Monday, comparing how the new lines give her parts of the Rockaways that are now Smith’s constituents.
Under the redistricting proposal submitted by the state Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment, the Rockaways would be split, with Addabbo’s district representing the western Rockaway neighborhoods, including Breezy Point and Rockaway Park, while Huntley would represent Arverne and Far Rockaway.
Senate, state Assembly and congressional lines are redrawn every 10 years to account for population changes recorded by the census.
Smith now represents the entire peninsula while the Rockaways is split in Congress between U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Middle Village), who has the western part, and Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans).
The task force’s proposal would take away Lindenwood, Ozone Park, Woodhaven and Richmond Hill from Addabbo and give him part of the Rockaways, Fresh Meadows and Broad Channel.
If those changes go through, Addabbo’s district would be more conservative because of Republican-leaning areas in the Rockaways.
“It’s absurd the Republicans are trying every which way to stay in power,” said Addabbo, who beat longtime Republican Sen. Serphin Maltese in 2008. “The voice of the people has totally been ignored in the process and that’s a problem.”
Both Addabbo and Huntley said they would have preferred the Rockaways to be intact as the area is now. Addabbo represented part of the Rockaways in the City Council.
“I don’t mind representing the Rockaways again — I find it intriguing — but I’ve held the position that communities should not be divided. I don’t think Rockaway should have two state senators.”
The Republican-led Senate drew up the lines for its own chamber while the Democratic Assembly did the same.
Huntley said her district and Smith’s are both heavily Democratic and Republicans would have nothing to gain by tinkering with the lines in southeast Queens.
“I frankly thought our lines would stay the same,” she said. “I have no idea why anybody would do this. They could have left me how I was. It really doesn’t benefit them to do it.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he would veto any redistricting plan that is not drawn up by an independent commission, and Addabbo said it appears the lines will be legally contested.
“We are looking at lines drawn by a court at this point,” the senator said about the likelihood of litigation over the redistricting plan, which was conceived out of “the same politics that have plagued Albany for years.”
The senator said the process should be “about voters choosing their representatives, not representatives choosing their voters.
“The process is flawed to begin with,” he said.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.