FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 27, 2011
Civic Participation Coordinator
Director of Public Policy and Advocacy Citizens Union
212-227-0342 ext. 24, 202-494-0611
MinKwon Center, Coalition of Asian-American Groups Announce Support for
Citizens Union's ReShapeNY Campaign
Citizens Union Identifies 15 Assembly and 6 State Senate Districts
with Asian Americans Equal to or Exceeding 20 percent of the Population
Flushing, NY - The MinKwon Center for Community Action (formerly YKASEC) and other Asian-American organizations announced the creation of an Asian-American coalition to advocate for redistricting reform. The groups announced that the new coalition would support Citizens Union's ReShapeNY Campaign, which advocates for an independent redistricting commission to draw new electoral district lines for the 2012 elections.
According to the 2010 Census, New York City's Asian-American population surged by 32% in this last decade (more than 4 times that of any other major racial group) and now makes up the majority in seven neighborhoods city-wide. The coalition emphasized that new district lines should be redrawn fairly through an open, transparent process by an independent commission to take the Asian-American community's growing population into account.
MinKwon Executive Director Steve Choi said, "In the current system, legislators have drawn their own district lines to protect themselves politically - not sufficiently recognizing the needs and interests of our community, even as our numbers have grown significantly. We believe ReShapeNY's redistricting reform ideas would draw sensible district lines and bring much more fairness to the Asian-American community."
Citizens Union's Alex Camarda, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy said, "We are thrilled to have the support of the Asian-American community in supporting ReShapeNY, our coalition of civic, labor, business, and issue-advocacy organizations united to reform redistricting in New York State. District lines are currently drawn to prioritize the re-election of incumbents and the parties in power. This preservation of the status quo does not adequately allow for growing and emerging ethnic groups to aim for representation that mirrors their population. We need a more independent process that creates fair, objective criteria and provides robust opportunities for public input so all voices are heard as maps are being drawn."
The coalition, which includes Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), Chinese American Voters Association (CAVA), Chinese Christian Herald Crusades, Korean American League for Civic Action (KALCA), Korean Americans for Political Advancement (KAPA), Korean American Voters Council (KAVC), and Taking Our Seat, announced it would engage in community education, mobilize Asian American community members to participate through phone-banking, and participate in legislative visits, including a June 1st lobby day to support the ReShapeNY Campaign.
Grace Lyu-Volkhausen, a co-chair of ReShapeNY said, "ReShapeNY is pleased to have the support of organizations representing the Asian-American community. With 37 organizations endorsing the ReShapeNY coalition, and the backing of these groups today, it is clear that the legislature must act this session to reform the redistricting process. The redistricting process has not historically been rapidly responsive in creating opportunities for growing and emerging ethnic and racial groups to elect candidates of their choice. We believe a more independent and fairer process will allow for representation to better reflect demographic changes in population."
Citizens Union released data showing that 15 State Assembly districts and 6 State Senate districts have Asian-American populations equal to or exceeding 20 percent of the district's total population. Five Assembly districts and two State Senate districts have Asian-American populations exceeding 30 percent. Asian Americans are currently a majority of the population in just one Assembly district, district 22 in Flushing, Queens represented by Grace Meng. Meng is the only Asian-American representative of 212 state legislators (less than one half of 1 percent) yet Asian Americans represent 7.33 percent of the population according to the 2010 census. The current redistricting boundaries were drawn after the 2000 census when Asian Americans were 5.5 percent of the state's population. Using census data from either 2000 or 2010, the proportion of Asian-American population exceeds by at least eleven times the proportion of their representation in the state legislature.
Citizens Union believes that a fairer and more independent redistricting process would better take into account the rapid growth of the Asian-American population in New York and the need to draw districts that allow for opportunities to elect possibly more Asian Americans to political office instead of simply protecting current incumbents.
Citizens Union of the City of New York is an independent, nonpartisan, civic organization of members who promote good government and advance political reform in the city and state of New York. For more than a century, Citizens Union has served as a watchdog for the public interest and an advocate for the common good.