Splitting Up Jamaica Plain? City Council Redistricting Could Remove Bourne, Forest Hills
A new scheme for City Council districts could pull one or two JP neighborhoods out of District 6.
A proposed redistricting map could split up Jamaica Plain, leaving the neighborhood no longer represented mainly by one city councilor.
City Councilors must agree on a new district map soon. The law requires updating district boundaries with each Census. A final vote is expected Wednesday at the council's last meeting before the legal deadline next week.
The difficulty is how to redraw districts while not diluting representation of people of color. Mayor Thomas Menino has rejected two maps passed by City Council so far, arguing they don't pass muster on that score. Such maps could even face legal challenges.
Here's how it breaks down: District 6, the seat held by City Councilor Matt O'Malley, currently represents almost all of JP. Depending on what you consider the neighborhood's at times contested boundaries, small sections of JP are represented by District 5 City Councilor Michael Ross and District 7 City Councilor Tito Jackson.
According to the Dorchester Reporter, one proposal would take Ward 19, Precinct 12 (roughly the Bourne area) out of District 6 and put it in District 4, a nearly all-minority district of Dorchester and Mattapan represented by City Councilor Charles Yancey. This map is backed by At-Large City Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Felix Arroyo, according to the paper's report. Jackson also supports this map.
A rival map would take two JP precincts out of District 6, according to the Reporter. This one would take not only the Bourne area, but also Ward 19, Precinct 7 (roughly Forest Hills). City Councilors Fred Baker, Rob Consalvo and Bill Linehan reportedly back this map.
Arroyo, who lives in Forest Hills, mobilized residents against that map, going so far as to send canvassers door-to-door on Sunday.
"I am adamantly opposed to any plan that includes Forest Hills and the Casey Overpass area not being with the rest of JP," Arroyo said in a phone interview with Patch.
The JP Neighborhood Council took up the issue on Tuesday night. The elected advisory board voted to oppose both precincts being taken out of District 6.
"You can meet the goals of fairness without doing so much to Jamaica Plain," said Ben Day, chairperson of the Neighborhood Council.
The deadline for redrawing the boundaries is pegged to the November 2013 elections. Candidates must live in the district they plan to run for during the year before the election.
City Council meets at noon Wednesday to take up the competing proposals and make a final vote.