Because the seat was not created until February, the candidates running in District 17 had an accelerated timeline to collect petition signatures and bring in campaign cash. It may now all be for naught.
As the special master configures the state’s new districting lines, candidates in the race told the Eagle that they aren’t changing much about their campaigns until they know for sure if the district is or isn’t altering.
“Having done all of this work so far, we are just really seeing this as, we’re gonna wait, but we’re organizers and we’re gonna keep organizing,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez has put her field events on hold, for now, but has continued with other aspects of the campaign.
“We’re just taking this week to reassess and figure out what the best next steps in the interim look like, but it doesn’t really change what the larger purpose this campaign has been serving, which is a vehicle for organizing,” she added. “We’ll still keep advocating for all of the same policies, and the platform that we put forward.”
Like Gonzalez, Crowley said she will continue to speak with voters and will readjust for what is now an August primary – a judge ordered Friday that the primary election for congressional and Senate seats be held on Aug. 23 but left it up to the state to decide whether or not to hold Assembly and gubernatorial primaries on the same day or on the original June date. Splitting the primary could have widespread financial consequences for New York’s tax payer, as each election costs millions of dollars.
“It changes the timeline,” Crowley said of the Court of Appeals decision. “We’re moving forward and we’re looking forward to getting more direction from the state, namely, the Board of Elections.”
When speaking with voters, Crowley said most were excited to be part of a new district but added that some were surprised it covered neighborhoods in two boroughs.
Singh said that he heard a similar response, and has considered that a flaw of the district, himself.
“There’s no reason why Richmond Hill and Eastern Queens are connected to North Brooklyn – it’s just two different demographics, two different sets of problems,” he said.
Though Singh isn’t pleased with the court’s decision, he lays the blame with the State Democrats who drew the maps in the first place. Singh, a member of the Queens’ Southeast Asian American community, was one of many fighting for a unified Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and South Ozone Park in the redistricting maps, a wish that didn’t come to fruition.
“[The special master] can completely screw us and take the seat and put it elsewhere – they can put it upstate, they may just make it all Brooklyn or they might cut out Richmond Hill and give more to Brooklyn or cut out Brooklyn and make it a Queens only district, which is the best thing in my mind, ”Singh said.
“This is what happens when a group of people have too much power,” he added.
Olivas, who has continued to campaign and speak with voters despite the Court of Appeals’ decision, said she agrees with Singh, and feels voters in Richmond Hill weren’t considered enough by state Democrats when drawing the lines.
“I’m really curious if there’s a way for better representation for that part of Queens,” Olivas said.
For newer candidates without much connection to the Democratic party, like Olivas, the potential for having to again collect petition signatures is worrisome, she said.
“It’s frustrating,” Olivas said. “Do we have to petition again, or what does that look like? Because it can be expensive if you don’t have a machine behind you. ”
Cervas has until May 20 to submit the state’s new district maps.