WHY WE NEED A
FAIR REDISTRICTING PROCESS. I secured 49% in my State Senate run in
2006, but did not win the City Council - WHY?
- A case study in courage
By Vishnu Bisram (in New
is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong
stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The
belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred
and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short
again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but
actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the
devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows
end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails,
he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with
and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”- President
last Special Election held November
2, 2010 has established a road map for us to secure
representation, and the concomitant economic progress and mainstream
recognition as a vibrant, thriving community. It also reiterates the
have a consensus candidate from the South Asian and Indo-Caribbean
visit to Albert Baldeos’s Facebook page or to his campaign office
he energized the hopes and aspirations of our community. Courageous,
and inspirational are common adjectives aptly used to describe him.
many attempts at winning a seat at the table of government not only
us on the political map as a vibrant, taxpaying community which has
Richmond Hill, Ozone Park, South Ozone Park and environs, but
is lacking in our supposed democratic system-fair redistricting, from
Baldeo indelibly and emphatically placed us in American history when he
up the political establishment and almost defeated a 30 year incumbent
Chair of the Republican Party in Queens,
Since then, all political aspirants have made the trek to our community
secure our votes and our funding, and candidates running from our
get mainstream media attention and coverage.
fact, both Ruben Wills and Nicole Paultre-Bell located their campaign
in Richmond Hill, more
realistically referred to as “Little Guyana,” something
that was never done
before by their predecessors seeking office whose districts included Richmond
himself sums it up thus, “Political representation will not come
it is more expedient for vested and special interests to divide and
and we will have to overcome many adversities to scale those mountains.
process has been about opening doors for future generations, so that
children, and subsequent generations to come, will not have to live as
class citizens. It was never about me. It was always, and will always
us progressing as a community. Right now, that door has opened, but it
former Council member Tom White, who had severely neglected our
in office recently, Baldeo emerged as the consensus candidate within
Caucasian and Hispanic community.
from a historic District Leader race in the 38th Assembly District, he
of the votes over his rival, Harpreet Singh Toor, a Sikh community
secure that seat, as well as being elected as a Delegate to the
Convention (which elects Judges to the Supreme Court), and County
No one before him had done so well at the polls, much less in a diverse
district as Assembly District 38.
of these voters screamed that they could not find Albert Baldeo’s
name on the
ballot and protested that they were disenfranchised because of the
divisions imposed upon us by gerrymandering. Consequently, because our
community has been divided into several political districts, Baldeo
carry over or consolidate that huge block of vote into his City Council
because the district lines prohibited that.
fact, the attached diagram shows how our community is divided between
Council Districts 32 and 28, that is between Council members Eric
Ruben Wills. Had Baldeo been able to get votes from a fairly drawn
would have won the elections, and our community would have broken the
had Harpreet Singh Toor not taken away vital votes from Baldeo, he
won even more convincingly.
fact that Ruben Wills’ name appeared on the Democratic line on
exclusively, and his false representations to voters via his literature
campaign workers that “Wills is the only Democrat in this
race,” ensured his
ballots would have cured this gross misconception, but Wills, the
choice, benefited unfairly throughout the process.
years of struggle, victories and defeats have certainly mellowed
misguided businessmen and professionals reap heavily from the
the good life, but never give back. Instead, these hypocrites arrange
sweetheart deals from politicians they give lavish contributions to at
expense of our entire community, while some of us consider politics
are stuck in the past, with a plantation mentality of mental slavery
this day and age, and cannot envision, much less accept, the idea of
their own being elected.
would prefer a stranger than one of their own. Thankfully, these belong
dwindling, depraved band. Baldeo also has his false accusers from the
City Council race haunting him like zombies.
when he could have pressed charges and law suits against Dr. Robby
his wife Rachel Itwaru, Vishnu Mahadeo and Sunil Harricharran for
duplicated, sensationalized but palpably false police complaints that
had allegedly pointed a gun at them in 2005, Baldeo took the higher
forgave them, but the media never gave him credit for his largesse.
fact, Baldeo was addressing 3,000 Rochdale
at the stated time, and this irrefutable alibi could have sent these
complainants to jail for a long time.
saved these people from serious consequences by not pressing charges
vicious lies, and took the higher road, and showed leadership,”
Baldeo said. Dr.
Robby Mahadeo, apparently not thankful for the magnanimous reprieve
extended to himself and cohorts, even gave Nicole Paultre-Bell his
to run her campaign, becoming the poster child for the putrid mentality
still affects our community.
rich in Gandhian philosophy, Baldeo said, “We must not divide our
of us lose when we do that. We must show leadership and triumph over
is a characteristic of the strong, not the weak.”
glaring division of our community is contrary to the fundamental
the American Dream, and violates justice, fair play and the Voting
and other pillars of American traditions and jurisprudence.
summed up his reason for running. “Everyone knew that it was a
long shot, but
it was a shot worth taking for our community’s benefit and
we have data to lobby for a fair district, and my races are vital
our cause. We must now lobby our elected representatives, redistricting
commissions, good government groups, and the Federal Courts as a last
draw us fair districts in the City Council, State Assembly and State
we are to be treated fairly and equally with other Americans as a
population with a common heritage, customs and needs.
is the whole promise of the American Dream. All we ask for is equal
more, nothing less.”
Baldeo has led our fight with conviction, vision and leadership. I am
that he has charted the right course. It was the same attributes I saw
men whose photographic presence inspire him in his office –
Mahatma Gandhi, Dr.
Cheddi Jagan, Nelson Mandela, and Dr. Martin Luther King. He frequently
inspiration from these great men. His favorite poem
“Invictus,” by William Ernest
Henley, is positioned beside his guiding Gandhian quote, “You
must be the
change you want to see in the world.”
Baldeo is certainly an inspirational leader, and one who has challenged
status quo to bring a better life for all of us, a freedom fighter and
in his own right - a visionary far beyond the time, people and
found himself in.
I could just emulate a small part of those great men, my life would be
worthwhile - and we will all be the better for it,” he said. Just
then, his 6
year old son rushed in and asked, “Daddy, did we win?”
son,” Baldeo said, as he heaved the sigh of a man carrying an
entire community on his shoulders, “But as long as we continue to
will always be winners.”