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State Redistricting Set to Transform JP Congressional Representation

The state legislature has proposed moving 1/3rd of JP's residents into the most conservative Congressional district in the state. A link for residents to submit comments to the state is included.

This Monday the state legislature's Redistricting Committee quietly released a proposal that would dramatically overhaul JP's representation in Congress, shifting roughly a third of JP's residents from Representative Capuano's current district to a district likely to be representated by Stephen Lynch, the state's most conservative Democrat. Rep. Lynch has cast a number of pro-life votes, which led NARAL to endorse his challenger in 2010, and was the sole Massachusetts representative to vote against President Obama's health reform law.

The Redistricting Committee is accepting public feedback on its proposed boundaries only until Thursday, November 10 - three days after releasing its proposal, two of which were overshadowed by city council elections. ALL JP residents should be encouraged to submit their comments to the Committee here, even after the November 10 deadline has passed (the full House and Senate will have to vote on the measure even after it is voted out of committee):

http://www.malegislature.gov/District/Contact

I copy my letter to the Redistricting Committee below. These views are my own, and not those of the Neighborhood Council, which will not meet next until November 29.

To the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting,

I write to you as the Chair of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, in response to the proposed Congressional redistricting boundaries published by the committee on November 7, to express deep concern about the proposal’s impact on the JP neighborhood of Boston. I write expressing my personal opinions and not those of the Council, which will not have time to meet in the three days the Committee has allowed for public comment on the proposed new boundaries – three days that also overlapped with municipal elections in Boston, making public education and public feedback from our neighborhood difficult.

The proposed redistricting plan is driven by goals that I strongly support: to ensure the creation of a ‘majority minority’ district in Eastern Massachusetts, and more broadly to protect against the marginalization of communities of interest (whether ethic, racial, or other).

The proposed district boundaries would move almost one-third of JP’s population – 11,921 residents in nineteen precincts according to the 2010 census – from the current District 8, the most diverse district in the state, into a newly created district with one of the state’s less diverse populations.

Jamaica Plain is a neighborhood with a strong sense of identity, and it is a community of interest unto itself just as strong as many municipalities in the state that the Committee has attempted not to divide in half with district boundaries. Beyond this, Jamaica Plain has a political and cultural identity that has historically linked it to neighborhoods that fall under the Committee’s proposed District 7, and very little historical connection with the proposed District 8. For this reason, I am concerned that JP residents in the nineteen affected precincts would feel marginalized within their new district, and would lack a broader ‘community of interest’ to ensure their adequate representation in Congress. I anticipate that thousands of JP residents would react to their change in representation with disappointment and concern. However, these concerns are motivated by the same principles that have guided the Committee’s attempts to ensure that communities of interest, to the extent that they are geographically contiguous, are able to maximize their representation in Congress.

Jamaica Plain is one of the few diverse neighborhoods left in Boston – moreover in the state, where black, Hispanic, white, and LGBT communities share a social and geographic space. Ensuring that such diversity is mutually supportive and dynamic, and that we are not working at cross-purposes, is an ongoing challenge. I fear that drawing a Congressional line through our neighborhood will make this work even more difficult, as we would find ourselves with different Congressional representatives and very different political dynamics to seek representation.

This Committee’s work is extremely important and, particularly given the redistricting process following the 2000 Census, has been a model of integrity and carefully considered goals. I would urge the Committee to reconsider the division of Jamaica Plain in its work towards achieving these goals.

Thank you for your consideration,

Sincerely,

Benjamin Day

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Rockie November 10, 2011 at 01:37 PM
Good! Now you all can help us vote Lynch out! -Roslindalian
laura November 10, 2011 at 02:26 PM
I am one of those that would be bumped to Lynch and thus mis-represented by him as this very well written letter says. But I agree...for the greatest good...isn't it a decent thing that Lynch's district will have possibly more progressive voters added, so they can vote him out or pressure him to represent them better? In thinking of things nationally, isn't it better or good? I am happy to hear why my rationale is wrong or counter balanced somehow. How will it effect me that my representative doesn't stand for my views when overall ALL of the US HOUSE is so far to the right? I am not sure it really matters but I don't know what I am missing. This letter seems to think it matters. Please explain.
Chris Child November 10, 2011 at 02:54 PM
Thank you for the article Benjamin. Is there a better map available that can show how the exact part of JP that would be affected by this redistricing? From the looks of the map, I think it's from the Hyde Square Rotary and everything to the right along Centre Street towards the Pond (and after the monument to the right of South Street) and below Perkins Street, but I can't be sure. I live along Centre between the rotary and Jackson Square, so I think I would stay represented by Capuano.
Chris Helms (Editor) November 10, 2011 at 03:43 PM
Hey Chris, I will look around for a better map. Meanwhile, here are the wards/precincts that would go from what is now Capuano's district to what is now Lynch's district: Ward 11 — 9, 10 Ward 19 — Precincts 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 If you don't remember your precinct, you can look it up on the city's web site: http://www.cityofboston.gov/elections/voter/
Chris Helms (Editor) November 10, 2011 at 03:56 PM
At Chris Child's request, I've added a ward and precinct map to this post. Please note it is only useful for seeing wards and precincts -- the districts are City Council and have no bearing on the Congressional districts. Again, here are the wards/precincts that would change to what is now Lynch's district: Ward 11 — Precincts 9, 10 and Ward 19 — Precincts 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9
Benjamin Day November 10, 2011 at 04:07 PM
Hi Chris - There isn't a good map that shows the old and the new boundaries in JP unfortunately, but the city does have a good map of the ward and precinct boundaries, and you can zoom in to see roughly the line they're moving. Your description sounds about right - all of the Ward 10 precincts in JP would be left in Capuano's district, and that includes Jackson Square and the neighborhood between South Huntington and the JWay that has the JWay tower (where I live). Here's the city's ward and precinct map: http://www.cityofboston.gov/maps/pdfs/ward_and_precincts.pdf
Chris Helms (Editor) November 10, 2011 at 04:30 PM
Thanks, Ben! I just added a zoomed-in screen grab from that PDF to the images on this post. Everyone, if you want to zoom in really close, I recommend following Ben's link and downloading the PDF yourself.
Chris Child November 10, 2011 at 06:01 PM
Thanks Ben and Chris - I've put the images side by side if that is helpful to anyone else, for the area of Jackson / Hyde Square - the line between the proposed districts is the border of the 10-9, going down Forbes street, up Chestnut, then down Mozart Street, and then along the Orange line between Lamartine and Amory streets.
Phil Lindsay November 10, 2011 at 08:28 PM
My Dorchester precinct is going to Capuano. I hope your efforts to sway this change fail. Was first in Lynch, then got switched to Capuano and then I moved back to Lynch and now back to Capuano. Lynch is a Republican dressed up in union drag. Good luck with him. Hopefully his new district will make him more vunerable. I don't think I ever got a full response from him as he heard from me plenty on his pro-war stance.

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