August 29, 2022
Hell's Kitchen is a community name that is known throughout New York City and beyond. From 34th Street to 59th Street and from Eighth Avenue to the Hudson River, it is a clearly defined and celebrated neighborhood that deserves united representation in the City Council.
Redistricting should keep communities whole, just as the Redistricting Commission is charged with doing under the rules for creating updated City Council districts. In addition to the protections still afforded by the Voting Rights Act, the City Charter mandated criteria specifically states that the commission must “keep neighborhoods and communities intact.”
Given that the proposed map would split one community into three separate Council Districts, the commission has failed to meet its own criteria based on the first round of proposed maps. Beyond dividing an established community through fragmented representation, the map would also significantly undermine zoning and land use matters, and potentially affect consistent city services.
From the local business districts of Ninth and Tenth Avenues to our performing arts industry, both on and off Broadway, Hell’s Kitchen is an economic engine for our city attracting both New Yorkers and tourists alike. The Special Clinton District preserves a neighborhood built by nearly every historical wave of immigrants who have come to our city, united in architectural distinction and history. Dividing Hell’s Kitchen ignores its history and longstanding cultural and economic contribution to the city. If the map is adopted, it will inhibit its future by gerrymandering its blocks with neighborhoods that have different needs and interests.
The 2020 census provides further arguments for keeping Hell’s Kitchen together within a single City Council district. Data has shown that Black, Hispanic, Asian and multi-racial residents now make up the majority of the population. The current proposed maps would dilute these voices into other majority white districts. As the first Assembly Member of Hispanic descent to represent Hell’s Kitchen, seeing the political voice of minority populations be split apart goes against the values I believe our city must hold when determining representation.
The Hell’s Kitchen community is also home to the core of our country’s largest LGBTQ+ population, another minority voice whose voices deserve power in representation. As the first LGBTQ+ person to represent Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea in the New York State Assembly, I support the Unity Map, which would unite these neighborhoods with the West Village in the City Council.
We live in a time where minority voices are under attack. Drawing district lines that dilute representation lessens the power of communities to stand together, not just in defense of their neighborhoods, but in the issues that affect our lives, the economy, and quality of life.
Hell’s Kitchen is worthy of full representation and should not be a fringe district for three different City Council districts. I urge the Districting Commission to adopt the lines proposed by the Unity Map, so that the communities of Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen that are united significantly in the New York State Assembly and entirely in the State Senate also have a united voice in the City Council.