State Senator Michael Gianaris, who currently represents parts of western Queens, had a slice of south Queens added to his district making for a strange-looking map.
With the new lines in place, Gianaris will now also represent from the bottom of Forest Park down to North Conduit Boulevard. However, the width of the area he represent will only stretch from Eldert Lane to 85th Street at its widest points.
The state senator attended the Woodhaven Residents Block Association meeting last Saturday to introduce himself to his newest constituents.
“There was that whole issue with redistricting that we talked about at many meetings,” said association President Ed Wendell. “As the results came out on different levels, we ended up with some strange district lines.”
Along with Gianaris, the neighborhood of Woodhaven has two other representatives in the State Senate.
“I’m here and I’m proud to be down here,” said Gianaris. “One way to look at it is that you’re split up three ways. Another way is that you have three senators to complain to when something is wrong.”
One woman in the audience shouted “oh we will,” in a tone that was both serious and jovial.
“We do have a feeling that what affects one person, affects us all,” said Wendell. “And even if you do represent a small portion of Woodhaven, you do represent all of us.”
The senator said that issues like public safety, traffic problems and quality of life troubles are similar to those his constituents in western Queens face. “We know how to handle these things,” he said. “We’ve done it before.”
Maria Thomson, executive director of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District, asked Gianaris about an increased police presence. She pointed out that the area has not received any new officers, and asked Gianaris how successful he has been in Astoria in getting new cops.
“We have actually had a decline in the 114h Precinct,” he said. “That’s one of the big issues for us, too, so I assume we’re dealing with the same things.”
While discussing the redistricting process, Gianaris said that while he was in the Assembly he pushed to take the responsibility of drawing new district lines based on the most recent census data out of the hands of legislators and into the hands of an independent group.
“The Republicans decided to punish me,” he said when he moved to the State Senate.
Gianaris said things got a little personal when both his office and his home were taken out of the district in preliminary maps.
“There was such a fuss made that they drew a little piece just to recapture my house so that I wouldn’t have to move myself,” he said.
He is in the process of moving his district office to a new location, likely to a different part of Astoria. But Gianaris said that despite the small part of Woodhaven he actually represents, he is focused on being involved in the issues.
“I intend to always be there for you,” he said.