O’Malley: Council nearing a redistricting plan

August 3, 2012
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The City Council is nearing a compromise on redistricting the City’s nine districts, according to Councilor Matt O’Malley. And JP’s leadership is unlikely to change.

“There are still a number of steps to be taken, but short answer: Some consensus is being built,” said O’Malley, who lives in and represents Jamaica Plain.

The City Council is legally required to redraw the districts every 10 years after the census. The populations of the districts must be within a margin of 5 percent of the mean (68,621), resulting in a range of 65,190 to 72,052, according to the City’s website.

O’Malley said Councilor Bill Linehan’s plan is the frontrunner, but he thinks his and Councilor Tito Jackson’s plan is the best one. In both plans, JP appears unchanged. Several other councilors have put forth plans, including Councilor Charles Yancey, which would unify Mattapan.

Jackson, who represents Egleston Square, said he does not support Linehan’s plan because it “completely falls short of our goal of diversity and strength for the community of color.” He said his and O’Malley’s plan is the best because it does the greatest job of keeping neighborhoods intact.

“This process is so important because it only happens every 10 years,” said Jackson. “We need to make sure every neighborhood and every person is served well.”

Asked why they weren’t able to find the support for their plan, O’Malley said it’s a difficult political process because moving one piece sends reverberations throughout. He also said they were hamstrung by the Open Meeting Law because they weren’t able to work behind the scene. But, he added, that’s a good thing.

O’Malley said he is able to support Linehan’s plan because JP and West Roxbury, which he also represents, remain united.

“I won’t vote for any plan that splits West Roxbury or Jamaica Plain,” he said.

O’Malley reiterated that the redistricting has been a difficult process because very few councilors want to lose precincts and constituents don’t want to lose their councilor.

The councilor said that a final redistricting plan needs to be done by November.

“I think it will happen before then,” he said. “We will see.”

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