Irvington’s David Imamura Named Chair Of The State’s Independent Redistricting Commission
By Barrett Seaman—
The pieces are coming together that will ultimately determine the political map of New York State for the next decade, and the person who will be guiding the re-mapping process will be David Imamura, currently Democratic District Leader for the Village of Irvington.
The state’s new Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) was designed to be as politically neutral as possible, but the process will almost certainly get more contentious as its work nears completion next fall. The 2020 Census results mean that New York State is losing one of its current 27 House seats. As in the game Musical Chairs, in the final round, someone will be left without a seat.
Appointed as a Democratic member of the Commission last year by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Imamura was unanimously elected chair by the other commissioners last week. Republican Jack Martins, a former State Senator from Long Island was voted vice-chair. Each then named a member not affiliated with either main party, bringing the commission membership to ten.
The IRC was created in 2014 through a Constitutional Amendment, enacted in an effort to neutralize a redistricting process traditionally dictated by the party in power. This is the first time it will be tested since the new Census. It took a final round of appointments, along with a $4 million budget appropriation by the state legislature, to activate it. Imamura will gavel the fully-funded and staffed Commission to order for the first time on June 11.
For the next eight months, the IRC members and staff will be poring over maps and Census information to ascertain the distribution of voters in the state and how best to reflect their views. They must produce maps by September 15th, hold public hearings, make adjustments accordingly and submit their work to the legislature for final approval by January 2022. That leaves only about a month before local parties must submit slates for the November 2022 elections.
“Thus far,” says Imamura, “it is not that contentious at all.” Over the course of the summer, his commission will be “in the information-gathering phase.” They will hold one public hearing virtually before publishing the first draft of their maps and then a second hearing after publication—that one hopefully live. “It is imperative,” says Imamura, “that all voters in New York make their views known” for the outcome to be fair.
Anticipating that his new job would be time-consuming (which is to say intense), Imamura took a leave of absence from his job as a litigator for the New York law firm, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. That was not the only motive for taking time off, however: on April 23rd, David and his wife, Kate Farley, welcomed their son Leo Eamon Imamura into the world.