Redrawing Lines: How Redistricting Shapes Bushwick’s Future

As New York City gears up for the 2024 elections, Bushwick stands at a pivotal point due to its history as a bellwether for progressive voting patterns across the country. With the neighborhood completing the presidential primary, starting with early voting from March 23 to March 30 and finishing Primary Day on April 2, the focus isn’t just on the national scene. Bushwick’s local political landscape will be in flux due to local elections for all State Senate, State Assembly and Congressional Seats, in addition to shifts due to redistricting and demographic changes that have occurred in the neighborhood.

Politico reports that the recent redistricting was mostly bipartisan, and is not expected to affect election results except for in a few key districts. Despite not moving the needle on election predictions, there were some notable changes to Bushwick’s political map. Adjustments in areas such as Julia Salazar’s current State Senate District 18 seat which now includes the extremely conservative South Williamsburg area (voted ~80% trump) and Nydia Velazquez’s Congressional District 7. Changes that will surely affect election results and strategy, even if not outcomes. Jeff Coltin, a political reporter for Politico New York, downplayed the impact of the changes in NY-07 Congresswoman Velazquez’s district. Coltin told Bushwick Daily, “nothing changed!” Elaborating, “…a few blocks in northern Bed-Stuy and around Downtown Brooklyn are changing from last cycle to this year.”

Local Business Owner Gives Speech at Maria Hernendez Park

Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, representing NY-07, noted to Bushwick Daily the importance of connecting with new parts of the district, stating, “Though the redistricting changes to NY-07 were relatively minor, we are working hard to connect with constituents in the new parts of the district to understand their needs so we can hit the ground running during the next Congress.”

The June 25th primary, encompassing state Assembly, Senate, and Congressional contests, is an important moment for Bushwick to flex its democratic power. This election will be the first major test of the effects of the influx of asylum seekers, post-covid resettlement, rising rent prices, and the aforementioned redistricting on local politics. As a demographically young progressive neighborhood it’s also a big test to see how Gen Z turns out to vote and if we see the voting block as a more conservative group of voters than the liberal millennial hegemony.

Velázquez further elaborates on the potential challenges and opportunities: “With any new district, it’s vital to familiarize new constituents with your work while also quickly learning their needs… Everyone wants good schools for their kids, a health care system that doesn’t break the bank, clean air and clean water, and a safe and affordable place to live.”

This election cycle also introduces significant changes in campaign finance. The implementation of public matching funds for state campaigns is a groundbreaking shift, aiming to democratize the funding process. This change is expected to benefit candidates with more limited financial resources, with the goal of fostering more diverse political representation and potentially altering the competitive landscape in Bushwick’s local politics.

Velázquez also highlighted the importance of bipartisan cooperation, saying that “in recent years, we’ve seen how bipartisan legislation, like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, can make a positive difference in the lives of constituents in NY-07 and across the country. So, I am always ready and willing to work with colleagues on the other side of the aisle who are interested in pursuing policies that will improve the lives of my constituents.”

In the recent petitioning phase of the election cycle, all prospective candidates, including incumbents and challengers, were tasked with gathering signatures from registered voters within their districts who are affiliated with their respective political parties. These collected signatures were submitted to the Board of Elections for validation—a crucial step to ensure their names appear on the June ballots. The signature collection occurred from March through early April, and the validation of these signatures remains ongoing.

Coltin told Bushwick Daily on the upcoming election for NY-07, “Velázquez is a strong incumbent that nobody is challenging. […] no other Democrat has filed to run, so she won’t have a primary. And the district is deep, deep blue, […] Republican William Kregler has filed, but has no money and will be lucky to break 20% of the vote in November.”

Beyond electoral mechanics, national social and legal issues may influence voter sentiments in Bushwick. The debate over non-citizen voting rights in New York, following legal challenges to the City Council’s decision, mirrors a larger conversation about civic engagement and inclusivity. Furthermore, the discourse on asylum seekers and their integration into local communities is expected to influence voter opinions and turnout, making the 2024 elections a reflection of contemporary societal issues.

Velázquez shares her approach to these emerging challenges: “The redistricting changes have caused my office to prioritize outreach to the new parts of the district. We are working hard to introduce ourselves to constituents, engage community groups, and build relationships throughout the new district.” She stresses that despite the redistricting, “the most pressing local issues are not expected to change dramatically,” but emphasizes the importance of meeting with new communities to understand any differing priorities.

As we navigate a dense election year, from local to national, the involvement of politicians like Nydia Velázquez in addressing the evolving needs of their districts underscores the dynamic interplay of demographic shifts, legislative challenges, and the quest for inclusive governance in New York’s political landscape.

For a visual representation of the impact of redistricting in New York, we put together these visuals for you to check out:

For a full look of the redistricting changes and interactive map, The Center for Urban Research (CUR) at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) has created Redistricting & You, found here.

New York State Assembly Districts:

District 53: Represented by Maritza Davila.

District 54: Currently served by Erik Dilan. 

New York State Senate:

Senate District 18: Julia Salazar serves this district. 

Congressional District:

Congressional District 7: Nydia Velazquez is the incumbent. 

Photos by Alec Meeker for Bushwick Daily

This story was produced as part of the 2024 Elections Reporting Mentorship, organized by the Center for Community Media and funded by the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.

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