Minority and civic activists urged the state's redistricting task force Wednesday to redraw political boundaries so that minority communities are no longer split and into different districts, weakening their influence in any area.

Minority communities "should not be divided up and silenced," Assemb. Philip Ramos (D-Brentwood) told the task force.

Ramos, whose largely Latino Sixth District was created in the 2002 redistricting from pieces of three districts, said having its own elected official has resulted in more public funds flowing into the area, helping not only Latinos but all in the district. Minority communities in other areas, though, continue to be split up, he said.

The nearly four-hour hearing came amid uncertainty about the task force's work.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said he would veto any redistricting map created by a nonindependent body, but recently acknowledged a veto would cause "chaos" and that "going to court is not the optimum." He left open the possibility of a compromise with legislators.

At the hearing, the task force co-chairman, Assemb. John McEneny (D-Albany), also worried that a veto would land redistricting in the courts, and suggested Cuomo wait to see the body's work before deciding whether to veto it.

Still, several speakers continued to press for an independent commission to redraw the boundaries. "The redrawing of districts should be done by an independent commission, not by . . . [the task force]," said Nancy Marr, representing the League of Women Voters of Suffolk County.

Common Cause, a group that has pushed for an independent commission, emphasized that its hope is for redistricting to be depoliticized and for ethnic and socioeconomic communities to be kept together, said Susan Lerner, executive director of the organization's state chapter.

She told the task force that the Third and Fourth Senate districts in Islip "crack the Hispanic community almost directly in half," and the Fourth and Ninth Senate districts "divide the black communities in North Amityville and Wyandanch."

"This configuration makes it difficult for a minority candidate to challenge an incumbent," she said.


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months