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Rallying for Fair Redistricting in New York State

A coalition of reform-minded progressive groups rallied on Saturday, March 26, 2011, in front of the office of freshman New York State Senator Jack Martins. The rally was put together by the New Roosevelt Initiative, founded by Bill Samuels. The purpose of the rally was to demand that Martins keep his word to pass a law in the New York State Legislature imposing fair nonpartisan redistricting.

Candidate Martins signed the pledge promulgated by Mayor Ed Koch’s NY Uprising; and was, for that reason, named a “hero of reform” by Mayor Koch. Martins campaigned as reformer, but when presented with an opportunity to pass Governor Cuomo’s Independent Redistricting Bill, reneged on his commitment.

“I believe voters are tired of politicians who tell them one thing before Election Day and then give them excuses instead of delivering when in office. Jack Martins is the poster child for promises made but not kept,” offered Jay Jacobs, the New York State and Nassau County Democratic Chairman.

Bill Samuels, the organizer of the rally, made it known that “[t]hose who signed the pledge with no intention of keeping their word to the voters need to know that there will be consequences come reelection time.”

“I applaud all the young activists that have shown an interest and taken on the vital issue of independent redistricting,” said Mayor Koch, the originator of the pledge that Martin foreswore. “Today’s event is about holding politicians accountable to the pledges they took and making sure they know we are still paying attention. The people of the State of New York expect their legislators to be honorable and to keep their word. For anyone who signed the Uprising Pledge, that means enacting meaningful redistricting reform that will impact elections next year.”

The coalition included:

-Act Now

-New York State Young Democrats

-New York State Young Democrats Caucus of Color

-New York Democratic Lawyers Council

-New York Democratic law Students Council

-New York Civic

-College Democrats of New York

-Nassau Women’s Democratic Caucus

-Nassau Young Democrats

-Manhattan Young Democrats

-New Kings Democrats

-Brooklyn Young Democrats

-Queens Young Democrats

Dolores Sedacca, President of the Women’s Democratic Caucus, pointed out that “[t]he entire Nassau County State Senate Caucus is composed of white, male, Republicans despite the fact that the voters of the county are more than 50% female, there are more registered Democrats than Republicans, and over 30% of our voters are not white. Gerrymandering has deprived the women, persons of color and Democrats of Nassau County of representation in the New York State Senate.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2009 estimates, Nassau County is 51.2% female, and 31.9% non-white; and the New York State Board of Elections shows voter registration for Nassau County at 38% Democrats and only 36% Republicans as of the last elections in November.

During the rally, Robert Donovan, co-chair of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council pointed out that the way the current gerrymandered district lines are drawn, there are fewer voters in upstate districts than in downstate districts, which dilutes the voting power of downstate voters and contradicts the principle of “one man, one vote.” One of the tasks of independent redistricting would be to equalize the votes.

Conflict of interest notice: I am an officer of both the Nassau Women’s Democratic Caucus and the New York Democratic Lawyers Council. Can you figure out which one is me on the video?

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Cynthia Kouril

Cynthia Kouril

Cynthia Kouril is a former Special Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York under several different U.S. Attorneys, former counsel to the Inspector General for the N.Y.C. Department of Environmental Protection where she investigated threats to the New York City water supply and other environmental crimes, as well as public corruption and fraud against the government, former Examining Attorney at the N.Y.C. Department of Investigation and former Capital Construction Counsel at New York City Parks and Recreation.
She is now in private practice with a colleague whom she met while at the USA Attorney's Office. Ms. Kouril is a member of the Steering Committee, National Committeewoman and Regional Coordinator for the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, a member of the Program Committee of the Federal Bar Council and a member of the Election Law Committee at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. She is active in several other Bar Associations.
Most important of all, she is a soccer mom.