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Judges, Claiming 'Abdication' by Legislature, Back Court-Drawn Congressional Maps

Lowey loses New Rochelle. She announced her intention to run for re-election in the new district. Eliot Engel could represent New Rochelle.

Congressional districts in our region will look very different, after a panel of federal judges decided to approve a series of maps drawn by a magistrate colleague—due to the lack of a redistricting agreement among state legislators.

The response from the district court judges, Reena Raggi, Gerard Lynch and Dora Irizarry, was a scolding to state lawmakers who failed to exercise their traditional role in redistricting for Congressional seats.

They wrote, "In the face of an outdated congressional districting plan, the application of which would plainly violate the requirements of federal law, and of the New York legislature’s complete abdication of its congressional redistricting duty, this court is obliged not only to recognize a violation of law but also to create a new redistricting plan to ensure against the disenfranchisement of state voters in the 2012 congressional elections."

The panel chose to adopt maps drawn by federal Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann, which were released March 12, with slight alterations to districts in New York City and upstate.

Regionally, the adopted maps show Rep. Nan Hayworth, R-Bedford, with a district much like her old one, except it has shifted northward. Notably, she loses the Village/Town of Mount Kisco, a community that has been part of her personal and social life, dating back to when she was a practicing ophamologist at the Mount Kisco Medical Group. Her husband Scott is its CEO. The district, currently known as the 19th, will be renumbered as the 18th. New York state's Congressional delegation will shrink from 29 to 27 seats because its growth was not strong in relation to other state, according to the 2010 Census. Redistricting is done every decade to account for population changes.

Overall, Hayworth's district will include much less of northern Westchester, while maintaining all of Putnam County, southern Dutchess County and now all of Orange County. She will, however, lose northern Rockland County.

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, will pick up Mount Kisco and retain most of New Castle. However, she will lose its northern panhandle to Hayworth. This section of town falls entirely under the Mount Kisco postal zone and is near the New Croton Reservior. Overall, Lowey's district will shirt further north, as she will loses part of her sound shore constituents while seeing a district go up to Yorktown, Cortland and Peekskill. She will also pick up all of Rockland County. The district, numbered as the 18th, will become known as the 17th.

Lowey also announced her re-election bid today and weighed in on the change.

"The newly-formed 17th Congressional District will include areas of Rockland County and northern Westchester that I have not previously represented," she said in a press release. "I am eager to introduce myself to community leaders and residents throughout the district, share my record of accomplishment for our community, and earn your vote."

Elsewhere in the Hudson Valley, Eliot Engel, D-Bronx, will see a big change to his district. Engel currently represents a district that includes the northwestern part of the Bronx, traveling north up Yonkers, the Rivertowns and part of Tarrytown, and is connected to southern Rockland by the Tappan Zee Bridge. Now, his district will become geographically compact, remaining in the Bronx while picking up part of Lowey's southern Westchester area, including New Rochelle. His district will be renumbered from the 17th to the 16th.

The new maps are being imposed in order for districts to be set in time for the state's Congressional elections.

A copy of the district judges' decision and order is attached here as a PDF file. To learn more about the court's role, click here for its docket sheet.

CORRECTION: Eliot Engel's new district will include New Rochelle. This article has been modified from its original version to include that change. Patch regrets the error.

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