David Yassky has a solid résumé, lots of campaign cash and plenty of ideas for improving the slice of Brooklyn he wants to represent in Congress. In another Democratic stronghold, he might be the runaway favorite.Candidacy Fosters A Debate On Race (Washington Post, July 6, 2006)
But in New York's 11th District, Yassky's candidacy has touched off a controversy about race and turned a sleepy primary contest into an emotionally charged debate over minority political representation. The 11th District is one of the dozens of majority-black seats created in the aftermath of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act. And Yassky, unlike his three primary opponents, is white.
Racially gerrymandered districts, created with the best of intentions after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, have in fact created "safe seats" for minority elected officials in the past.
As district demographics and social mores change, however, the question is whether the best interests of minority constituents are being looked after.