Civic leaders, city officials, and residents came to the Eastern Queens United rally recently in support of new district lines to keep eastern queens communities united and maintain a strong voice in politics.
Every 10 years after the census is complete, district lines must be re-drawn. Many residents and civic leaders said that because of the increased diversity, district lines should keep the community united in order to have a strong voice.
“Our collective power is diluted if we’re chopped up, our arguments are less relevant,” said Ali Namji, lawyer and resident of Glen Oaks village.
Several elected officials attended the rally on Thursday, January 12, including Assemblymember David Weprin, Councilmember Mark Weprin and Senator Tony Avella. They all said they were in support of keeping the community united.
“I will vote no,” said Avella. “It’s more important that the community stay together more than my own political aspirations. You have my support no matter what happens.”
Dianna Dalton, who lives on the Queens/Nassau border, said she has trouble proving she lives in New York City when calling for services and said she’s worried about possibly being redistricted into Nassau County.
“I was upset when I heard that. Nassau County isn’t going to care who we are or what we need. We want to stay with the neighborhoods that we border so we have some say in what we need,” Dalton said.
Those living well within eastern queens though are concerned about minority groups having a voice. Jamilla Uddin of the Alliance of South Asian American Labor organization, which works in collaboration with Eastern Queens United, said their main goal is to have a bigger voice for the Southeast Asian community. Uddin said that by having the community united, they will become a majority that can have an effect.
Although no district lines have been drawn up yet by legislators, Namji said that when they are, the people of eastern queens must show up.
“We have to continue to be united, we have to continue to come together. They’re compelled by law to have a hearing in every county with those draft maps. All of us have to be at that hearing. We have to be there in force.”