New electoral district lines are due to go into effect for the Westchester County Board of Legislators for the 2013 election. Several principles guided the drawing of these redistricting plans proposed by the Center For Research, Regional Education & Outreach at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
Population density, street-grid density, geography, Census Designated Places and town boundaries were all used to identify similar locales and group them into districts.
Greater population density in the county is concentrated along the border with New York City, especially in Yonkers, Mount Vernon and New Rochelle, and in the more densely populated areas of Port Chester, White Plains, Sleepy Hollow, Ossining, and Peekskill. The prison populations in Sing Sing, Bedford Hills and Taconic Correctional Facilities were scrubbed from the data to avoid skewing the population or demographic data. Unfortunately, no data were available to enable redistributing the prisoners into their places of origin, so they were simply excluded from the county.
The population target for each of the 17 districts in Westchester was 55,830 people. Typically, local redistricting is done with a deviation of plus or minus 5 percent (10 percent total). For Westchester that would be plus or minus 2,792 people, resulting in a maximum deviation of 5,583. (The plus or minus is actually 2,791.5, so the first number is rounded.) In the districting plan created for this project, the greatest positive deviation was 0.97 percent; the greatest negative deviation was 1.78 percent. That is, the difference in population between the most populous district and the least populous district was kept to 1,377, or 2.46 percent.
In five districts, the area's demographic profile was used in creating district boundaries. These were Districts 6, 12, 14, 16 and 17. This was done to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act.
District 1: Peekskill, Cortland area
Corresponds with current District 1
District 1 is in the northwest corner of Westchester. The locus in population density is Peekskill, and the district was drawn extending east from that city. Due to the low density of the surrounding area, the district includes a portion of Yorktown. We decided not to draw the district south along the Hudson River to separate Peekskill and Ossining, reflecting the geography between them and the link between Peekskill and the west bank of the Hudson via the Bear Mountain Bridge.
District 2: Yorktown, New Castle, Mount Kisco
Corresponds with current District 4
District 2, in the north of the county, extends from Yorktown to Mount Kisco, and is geographically centered on the New Croton Reservoir.
Corresponds with current District 2
District 3 is a large district in the northeast corner of the county. It was created by grouping towns and Census Designated Placess with a similar population density.
District 4: Croton on Hudson, Ossining
Corresponds with current District 9
District 4 extends along the Hudson from Buchanan to Briarcliff Manor. These are all Hudson River communities, have similar population densities, and an interconnected street grid along the Route 9 corridor.
District 5: Mount Pleasant, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown
Corresponds with current District 3
District 5 is a Hudson River district with the locus of population in the neighboring communities of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown. The eastern portion of the district is included, connecting the river to the Taconic State Parkway and nearby communities. This reflects the interconnection from the Tappan Zee Bridge to the Taconic.
District 6: White Plains, Elmsford
Corresponds with current District 8
District 6 was drawn to include Elmsford, Fairview and White Plains along the I-287 corridor. When selecting the neighborhoods in White Plains, care was taken not to diminish the influence of, or divide, the African-American or Hispanic communities.
District 7: North Castle, Harrison, Rye Brook
Corresponds with current District 6
District 7 runs along the eastern border of Westchester County. It is characterized by a low population density, a low street grid density, and is centered on the Kensico reservoir and Rye Lake.
District 8: Rye, Port Chester
Corresponds with current District 7
District 8 includes Port Chester and Rye. Some 36 percent of the voting age population is Hispanic. This is a Long Island Sound district and encompasses the southeastern tip of Harrison to achieve the population target.
District 9: White Plains, Scarsdale, Larchmont, Mamaroneck
Corresponds with current District 4
District 9 extends from White Plains south to Long Island Sound at Larchmont, and includes most of Scarsdale. This district is characterized by white-collar jobs, high incomes and suburban communities.
District 10: Ardsley, Hastings on Hudson, Greenville
Corresponds with current District 12
District 10 is a Hudson River district centered on Ardsley. These communities were grouped because of their similar population and street-grid densities, and shared location in the Town of Greenburgh.
District 11: Tuckahoe, Bronxville, Mount Vernon, Yonkers
Corresponds with current District 14
District 11 is centered on the intersection of the Eastchester, Yonkers and Mount Vernon town lines. It was drawn to connect communities with sparser population than Mt. Vernon or eastern Yonkers, and includes Tuckahoe as not to create a district that encompasses Mount Vernon.
District 12: New Rochelle
Corresponds with current District 11
District 12 is a New Rochelle district. It was drawn starting at the Sound, and extending north through the Town of New Rochelle, until the ideal population was reached.
District 13: Pelham, Eastchester
Corresponds with current District 10
District 13 was created essentially to group similar low density communities that are between Mount Vernon and district 12, and connect them to communities in New Rochelle and Eastchester.
District 14: Mount Vernon
Corresponds with current District 11
District 14 is the Mount Vernon district. It was drawn with an eye toward ensuring that the minority population in Mount Vernon was not marginalized.
District 15: Yonkers
Corresponds with current District 15
District 15 is one of three primarily Yonkers districts. This district is centered on the commuter corridor created by I-87 and the Sprain Brook Parkway. It includes the vast majority of the Grassy Sprain Reservoir
District 16: Yonkers
Corresponds with current District 16
Districts 16 and 17 are both Yonkers districts. They were drawn to balance the population deviations between them while attempting to avoid dividing minority communities.
District 17: Yonkers
Corresponds with current District 17
As above, Districts 16 and 17 were drawn to balance the population deviations between them, while attempting not to divide the minority communities. Since the current makeup of the district in this portion of Yonkers is a majority Hispanic district, in order not to diminish minority representation, District 17 was drawn as a majority Hispanic district as well. The current District 17 is a 56.2 percent Hispanic population, but is also has a -2.56 percent population deviation (is overrepresented) compared to the -0.28 percent deviation of the proposed district. While it may be possible given the current demographic makeup of the area to draw a district with a slightly higher Hispanic population percentage, it would have to be done at the cost of a lower total population and overrepresentation.