Council Democrats appeal to campaign treasurer for redistricting panel

City Council Democrats have named the campaign treasurer of one of its most powerful members to help oversee the delicate task of redrawing the Big Apple’s 51 council districts – raising concerns about potential conflict and the favoritism, sources told the Post.

The Council’s Democratic Conference chose attorney Gregory Kirschenbaum, who still appears on the electoral rolls as Councilor Keith Powers’ campaign treasurer, as one of its five members on the redistricting commission.

Powers, who represents Manhattan’s East Side, is chairman of the council’s rules committee that oversees election matters.

“A council member’s campaign treasurer is not an ideal choice for a commission that is expected to draw district lines to reflect the public interest first, without regard to the incumbent’s preferences,” Susan said. Lerner, executive director of Common Cause NY.

Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause, says Kirschenbaum is “not an ideal choice.”

Electoral lawyer Arthur Schwarz added: ‘Such an appointment is not illegal – but it should be. Redistricting nominations must be free from political influence. They should be made by non-partisan people.

Kirschenbaum’s connection to Powers was not publicly discussed when the Democratic Conference voted on the appointees, a videotape of the Feb. 7 meeting showed.

Council nominations are under scrutiny after Governor Kathy Hochul and Democrat lawmakers in Albany were sued over newly redrawn congressional lines they approved earlier this month and Republicans claim to screw up the GOP and the conservative voters.

Gregory Kirschenbaum
Gregory Kirschenbaum is still on the electoral rolls as campaign treasurer to Councilor Keith Powers.
Courtesy of Phillips and Associa
New York Governor Kathy Hochul
Council nominations are under scrutiny after Governor Kathy Hochul and Democratic lawmakers in Albany were sued over newly redrawn congressional lines.
Getty Images

Powers defended Kirschenbaum’s nomination.

“Mr. Kirschenbaum was unanimously confirmed by City Council for his outstanding credentials. His experience as a lawyer, community leader and public servant makes him an excellent choice,” Power said.

The councilman also said Kirschenbaum is no longer his campaign treasurer, although he is still listed in city campaign finance records as being in that role.

A redistricting expert, New York law professor Jeff Wice, said Kirschenbaum’s appointment was legal and proper.

Jeff Wice
Jeff Wice is a redistricting expert and law professor in New York.
Courtesy of New York Law School

City council legislative lines must be redrawn every 10 years to account for demographic changes based on the decennial United States Census.

New York City has added 629,000 residents — a nearly 8% increase in its population, which is now 8.8 million — since the last census a decade ago.

Due to the rise in many parts of the city, some council districts may face significant changes – a prospect that worries incumbents who should familiarize themselves with voters in new wards as they seek re-election .

    Denis Walcott
Former school chancellor Dennis Walcott speaks at a press conference at City Hall on the return of schools to the mayor’s control.
Stephane Yang

Fifteen members in total will sit on the redistricting committee. Mayor Eric Adams will appoint seven members, and The Post reported on Sunday that Queens Library chief and former city schools chancellor Dennis Walcott would be one of them. Council Republicans nominated three members.

The work will be concluded at the end of 2022 in preparation for the primaries in June 2023.

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