Fight to keep Forest Hills in JP council district under way; Woodbourne to switch

Woodbourne appears likely to leave the Jamaica Plain Boston City Council district when the latest redistricting plan is voted on tomorrow during the City Council meeting. A question remains whether or not Forest Hill stays in JP, but there is an effort to make sure that happens.

City Councilors Matt O’Malley, who lives in and represents Jamaica Plain, and Tito Jackson, who represents the Egleston Square area, will put forth an amendment to the redistricting plan that would retain the Forest Hills T Station and the Casey Overpass in JP.

Meanwhile, City Councilor Felix Arroyo, who lives in Forest Hills, is continuing his push to ensure Forest Hill does not leave JP. His office has been calling and emailing JP residents and door-knocking in the neighborhood, urging them to voice their support.

Without the amendment, Ward 19, Precinct 7, which includes Forest Hills, would move from O’Malley’s District 6 to City Councilor Charles Yancey’s District 4, which covers parts of Dorchester and Mattapan.

The current plans also calls for moving District 6’s Ward 19, Precinct 12, which covers the Woodbourne area, to District 4. The amendment would not alter that.

O’Malley said it is “incredibly” important to him for his district to retain Precinct 7. He said he has put a lot of work into issues in that area, including on the Casey Overpass and the Arborway Yard. He said that the area is an important progressive voice and Latino voice.

Arroyo contacted the Gazette Sunday, informing the paper that those two precincts might be leaving District 6. Since then, his office has been collecting registered voters’ signature for a petition that calls for Precinct 7 to “be off the table” in terms of precincts that are moved.

Arroyo said in a Gazette interview today he brought the petition with 100 signatures to a City Council’s working session on redistricting yesterday. He said his office is continuing to collect signatures in addition to the other efforts.

Arroyo said he wants JP residents to call all city councilors to tell them not to take Precinct 7 out of Jamaica Plain and to tell the Councilors that “enough is enough and we don’t stand for it.”

“That will make sure we keep Precinct 7 in District 6,” said Arroyo.

O’Malley presented the amendment to keep Precinct 7 during yesterday’s City Council’s working session.

“There seemed to be a lot of support,” O’Malley said about the amendment.

The councilor said unfortunately it is not possible to retain Precinct 12 in his district due to population count. Redrawing City Council districts is legally required every 10 years after the U.S. Census results are issued to make sure that each district has a roughly equal population.

Arroyo echoed O’Malley sentiments about not being able to retain Precinct 12 in JP, saying all districts have to give up something in order to unpack District 4.

Mayor Thomas Menino has twice vetoed previous redistricting plans earlier this year for having minority voters too concentrated within District 4.

The amendment was put forth during a working session held at City Hall yesterday. City Councilor Mike Ross said there is support for the effort to keep Precinct 7 in JP, while also being able to keep the majority of goals of the Coalition of Color, such as unpacking District 4.

“I think we have a pretty good plan,” said Ross.

Ross said there was a “tremendous effort with all hands on deck” during the working session. He said despite Hurricane Sandy, the entire City Council showed up at City Hall and that the councilors persevered at the table even when a stalemate or a technical problem appeared might end the meeting.

Ross said the final sticking point appears to be South End’s Ward 4, Precinct 3 and whether or not it stays in City Councilor Bill Linehan’s District 2 or is moved to Jackson’s District 7. The current map has the precinct in District 7.





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