Former state committeeman Lincoln Restler said on Thursday he will make a decision on whether to challenge Councilman Steve Levin by the end of the month. But he and his allies at the New Kings Democrats peppered a New York City Districting Commission representative with questions about how Levin’s 33rd Council District came to include several thousand new Hasidic voters from Councilwoman Letitia James’s nearby 35th District.
The rep said the Commission moved those Hasidic blocks because it would increase the percentage of black voters in the 35th District from 46 percent to 48 percent. “The Justice Department really doesn’t like it if we don’t follow the Voting Rights Act,” he said.
But Restler criticized the redistricting effort for being unduly political in several districts and cited as evidence a last-minute change suggested by Councilman Erik Dilan that would allow Assemblyman Vito Lopez to run for City Council in Brooklyn’s 34th District, where he doesn’t currently live.
“Why should we believe that our voices will be heard when it looks like an extremely political process?” said Restler.
The Commission will hold another round of public hearings on the redistricted lines over the coming weeks with a final draft due by early March.