Districting Commission Members confident twice-revised maps will fare better in upcoming Thursday vote

Districting Commission, City Council
NYC Districting Commission votes on first set of draft maps. July, 15, 2022.
Photo by Ethan Stark-Miller

Members of the New York City Districting Commission said they’re feeling good about additional changes made to the revised City Council district maps they’re set to vote on Thursday morning, which were amended a second time after the body rejected them late last month.

Michael Schnall, who voted “no” on the draft maps, and Yovan Samuel Collado, who voted “yes,” both told PoliticsNY Wednesday they think the maps are ready to be passed onto the City Council for consideration, following two public mapping sessions where the lines were further tweaked last week.

“I thought [the maps] were ready last time too and I thought that they were ready the time before,” Schnall said. “I think we’ll never get a set of maps that are perfect. And you never want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Schnall, however, stopped short of indicating which way he would vote Thursday. As the only commissioner from Staten Island, Schnall – a consultant with the athletic non-profit Asphalt Green – has made keeping the borough’s three council districts self-contained a sticking point throughout the map-making negotiations.

“For me, the big issue is always going to be keeping the three Staten Island districts contiguous without any other boroughs attachments,” Schnall said. “So my position won’t change until that does. But on the whole, I’m very satisfied with what I have been seeing. And I’m very hopeful that the maps pass, and that the council then gives us the really substantive feedback that we need to go through the final drafting process.”

During the last meeting, Schnall said his “no” vote was mostly motivated by the commission’s decision to combine Staten Island Council District 50 with a small piece of southern Brooklyn, a move he thinks would hurt both Staten Island and Brooklyn residents in the district.

The public mapping sessions and Thursday’s vote follow a Sept. 21 meeting where the 15-member commission sent its own maps back to the drawing board by an 8 to 7 vote margin. The previously private mapping sessions were opened for the public to view via livestream, after several of the commissioners who rejected the revised maps were criticized for not sharing their concerns before they voted.

Schnall and the other seven commissioners who rejected the maps cited several reasons why they thought the plan wasn’t ready to be passed onto the City Council for consideration. Including charges that the maps diluted the political power of certain communities of interest – like Latinos – and that they resulted from a dysfunctional line-drawing process.

Additionally, Politico New York reported shortly after the vote that Mayor Eric Adams’ Deputy Chief of Staff Menashe Shapiro urged all of his appointees to vote “no” on the revised lines. Although Adams denied having any knowledge of the matter when asked about it by PoliticsNY at an unrelated press briefing last week.

The commission is made up of seven appointees from Mayor Eric Adams, five from City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and three from Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island). Schnall and Collado were both appointed by Speaker Adams.

Disclosure: Joshua Schneps, publisher of Schneps Media, is a member of the Districting Commission.

Collado, a community relations director for the Carpenter Contractor Alliance of Metropolitan New York and who’s from the Bronx, said he thinks the changes made to the maps during the public sessions both strengthened his own confidence in them and fixed many of the issues brought up by his colleagues.

“I felt satisfied the first time around, I’m even more satisfied now,” Collado said. “We had the two public mapping sessions where the folks who had raised issues during the vote were able to deliberate those issues in view of the public. So I think at least to the extent that we solved their problems with the maps, they should be voting ‘yes.’ At least that’s my hope.”