Media Release: Rochester, NY – September 22, 2022.
Democrats held a press conference addressing a redistricting map created by Rachel Barnhart and the GOP that is being paraded as a full-fledged bi-partisan effort. This map was never agreed upon by the Democratic Caucus leadership. The proposed map presented on September 6 to the Monroe County Legislature by President LaMar and Legislator Barnhart unfairly packs minorities, specifically Black voters, into districts that already have a long history of electing Black and Latino officials. In fact, the Barnhart/GOP map changes Legislative District 21 – Legislator Barnhart’s district – from a majority-minority district to one that is over 60% white Voting Age Population, and is the district with the largest demographic change when comparing maps. According to the data provided by professionals (see attached), the proposed map creates just 2 majority-Black districts. Legislative Districts 25 and 27 are both over 50% Black Voting Age Population, while Districts 22, 28, and 29 fall short. Those who drew this map, are neither VRA experts nor lawyers, and used a free redistricting website to draw the proposed map.
Supporters of the 'Crescent’ map have used limited information to launch a PR campaign for a map they favor. The information is misleading and inaccurate. “We received information that provides demographic data for the proposed map. Based on expert data, the ‘Crescent’ map only has two majority-Black districts. This is troubling as the map falls short on its promise, while breaking up communities. The right thing to do is to determine whether we can create six effective majority-minority districts that provide for more opportunities to elect Black representatives,” said Legislator Yversha Roman.
“When we started this redistricting process, Legislator Barnhart told us ‘neighborhoods, neighborhoods, neighborhoods.’ She, as our former Assistant Minority Leader, encouraged us to involve our communities and fight to keep neighborhoods together. When Legislator Barnhart saw the writing on the wall that a sensible map might be drawn for her district, the importance of keeping neighborhoods together was rebranded as ‘pretty shapes.’ These neighborhoods are not pretty shapes. They are the backbone of our communities, often made up of individuals that have lived in their neighborhoods for decades. Splitting neighborhoods and communities in an electoral process is a textbook strategy for disenfranchisement and no one is buying it,” Said Legislator Mercedes Vazquez Simmons.
“The right question to ask is does the minority group have the opportunity to elect their candidate of choice? We believe that answer is yes, and that a legal and statistical analysis will confirm that. In fact, we already have five districts that historically elect the candidate of choice for Black and Brown voters. What I have seen is hurtful to the community. This has torn the community apart and should not be tolerated. Especially, when the data proves that our neighborhoods should stay intact,” said Legislator William Burgess.