Few changes in state redistricting plan

October 21, 2011
By

State Rep. Liz Malia’s 11th Suffolk District stands to pick up a couple of Jamaica Plain precincts from state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez’s  15th Suffolk District, according to a proposed state legislative redistricting plan released Oct. 18.

Under the plan, Malia would pick up two of Sánchez’s precincts: Ward 11, Precinct 6, which covers the Brookside neighborhood; and Ward 19, Precinct 9, which includes parts of Sumner Hill, South Street and Pondside.

State Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz retains all of JP in the 2nd Suffolk state senatorial district under the proposal.

Chang-Díaz serves as the state Senate’s vice-chair of the Redistricting Committee. As the Gazette previously reported, the advocacy group the Massachusetts Black Empowerment Coalition for Redistricting had hoped that the 2nd Suffolk would be redrawn to include JP, parts of Brookline and the South End, opening space for a new state Senate district in Roxbury and Dorchester. That did not happen.

The joint committee’s proposal leaves the 2nd Suffolk—a minority-majority district—largely intact, but it sheds some Back Bay precincts, Katherine Adam from the state Senator’s office told the Gazette.

State Rep. Russell Holmes retains the one Woodbourne neighborhood precincts he represents: Ward 19, Precinct 11.

In a press statement, Malia Lazu, project director of the Drawing Democracy Coalition—another advocacy organization working to increase minority representation through the redistricting process—praised the committee’s efforts. “We applaud the House and Senate chairs of the Committee on Redistricting. They have delivered a transparent, thoughtful and accountable redistricting process,” Lazu said.

“In terms of outcomes, while there may be more refining to do, these maps make a very strong recognition of the high growth in our populations of color over the past decade,” Chang-Díaz said in a press statement. “They increase our majority-minority districts in the state by 50 percent in the Senate and 100 percent in the House.  That’s progress you can sink your teeth into.”

The proposal includes three majority-minority Senate districts, including two in Boston, and 20 majority-minority House districts, including three in Boston.

The joint committee this year held 13 public hearings and invited individuals and advocacy groups to submit map proposals. That is a sharp contrast to the last round 10 years ago, when the process was conducted largely in secret and federal courts ruled that many of the state rep. districts, including the 11th Suffolk, had to be redrawn. Then-state House Speaker Thomas Finneran was later convicted for perjury for lying about the original process.

The state legislature is currently accepting public comments on the proposal, but the timeline is short. State election laws require that the new districts be approved by Nov. 4, one year prior to the 2012 state rep. elections. For more information, including maps, or to comment, visit malegislature.gov/District.