YONKERS — Three City Council Democrats are crying foul over hastily-called plans for a vote today on new political boundaries that they oppose.
The Yonkers council is scheduled to decide at a 3 p.m. meeting whether to adopt a redistricting plan put forth by Mayor Mike Spano last Friday as a compromise meant to end months of partisan bickering on the issue.
Democratic Council President Chuck Lesnick denounced that proposal Friday, saying it aligns with a “status quo” political map favored by Republicans. He vowed to seek a May 28 vote on a competing Democratic proposal — only to be thwarted Sunday afternoon when the city clerk announced today’s special meeting and vote on Spano’s plan.
A furious Lesnick sent an email blast late Sunday accusing Spano and Democratic Majority Leader Wilson Terrero of siding with the board’s three Republicans in a back-door effort to ram through the mayor’s proposal with little public input. The letter was also signed by Democratic councilmen Christopher Johnson and Michael Sabatino.
In it, Lesnick urged constituents to attend today’s meeting to oppose the mayoral plan, which Lesnick said will likely be approved, “quickly and covertly.”
“We need your support to attend (Monday’s) meeting and call out the perpetrators who look to hijack the legislative process for their own questionable motives,” Lesnick continued. “We ask you to call them out and let them know that the days of doing shady business deals under the cover of darkness are over.”
The redistricting controversy erupted earlier this year when Democrats released a proposed map that Republicans charged was heavily gerrymandered to consolidate Democratic political power in Yonkers. The GOP councilmen put out their own competing map later that month before Spano intervened in hopes of brokering a compromise.
The 11th-hour push to finalize new council districts for the next decade comes ahead of a June 4 deadline by which candidates must submit nominating petitions for the November election. The concern is that if a plan is not adopted by then, candidates for one of three council seats up for election will be in limbo about their district boundaries.
Spano defended his redistricting proposal Monday, saying it incorporates elements from both the Democrat and Republican plans. He emphasized a need to break through
“This compromise plan is fair to both political parties, which is why it has support from both Democrats and Republicans,” Spano wrote. “More important, it is fair to the people of Yonkers. It keeps neighborhoods together, preserves cultural and ethnic voices, and is fully compliant with the Voting Rights Act. It is a plan that puts the people first, and puts politics second.”
“We’ve come too far to let our City fall victim to partisan politics,” Spano also wrote. “We’ve made too much progress in the past year to allow political bickering to set us back.”
Check back for updates on this developing story later today….