By David Taber and John Ruch
A huge chunk of Jamaica Plain could be cut from U.S. Congressman Michael Capuano’s district and put in a new district where two incumbent Congressmen—Stephen Lynch and Bill Keating—live, under a redistricting proposal released Nov. 7.
Keating is indicated he will move out of the district into a newly formed, incumbent-less district including Cape Cod and parts of southeastern Mass. That means that Lynch, a South Boston Democrat, would represent the new district, if he is re-elected in 2012.
“I am very disappointed in the changes made with respect to Jamaica Plain in the proposed map and I hope we will see some alterations in the final map.” Capuano said in a statement emailed to the Gazette, “I enjoy representing the community and will very much miss the residents and the neighborhoods that make Jamaica Plain so vibrant.”
The proposal would remove almost all of the part of Ward 19 and a few Ward 11 precincts that are in JP from Capuano’s district. That means some of the Forest Hills and Jamaica Pond areas, Central JP and the Hyde Square area would switch Congressional districts.
Benjamin Day, the chair of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC), questioned the change and its short comment period in a letter sent to the state legislature on Nov. 9. Writing as the JPNC chair, Day said he supports the motivation of the change, which ensures a minority-majority Congressional district. But he also noted that it splits the diverse neighborhood of JP.
“Jamaica Plain is a neighborhood with a strong sense of identity, and it is a community of interest unto itself…,” Day wrote. “I anticipate that thousands of JP residents would react to their change in representation with disappointment and concern.”
The Congressional districts are also being renumbered. Capuano’s district, formerly the 8th Congressional District, would now be the 7th Congressional District. Lynch and Keating would be in the new 8th Congressional District. Lynch’s current district is the 9th, which includes parts of the Forest Hills and Jamaica Hills areas.
The proposal was presented by the State Legislature’s Joint Committee on Redistricting Nov. 7. A short public comment period on the plan ends Nov 10, when the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Redistricting is scheduled to vote on the proposal. It will likely be taken up by the full legislature in the following week. Following the committee vote, the proposal can still be amended prior to its passage.
Updated version: This version includes comments from JPNC chair Benjamin Day.