Times a tickin’

There’s a new redistricting map on the table! The Boston branch of theNAACP, Urban League, Victoria Williams, the Ward 12 Democratic Committee Co-Chair, MassVOTE, Chinese Progressive Association, Chinese Progressive Political Action have come up with their version of what city’s political boundaries should look like.

The map was filed by Councillors Liz Breadon of Allston-Brighton and Ricardo Arroyo of Hyde Park.

This is just one of many maps that have been filed with the City of Boston over the last week or so.  The deadline is quickly approaching for a final map to be approved by Mayor Michelle Wu and become law by November 7th – a year before the 2023 municipal elections.

You can see the other proposed maps here. 

So what exactly is redistricting?

Redistricting is in the process of drawing lines of districts from which our district councilors are elected in the City of Boston. The nine districts in the City are redrawn every ten years according to the latest census data. The goals of redistricting are to ensure that all nine of our districts reflect population changes and racial diversity. 

So how does it all work?

Using Census data, the Committee on Redistricting will review council districts. Districts are reviewed using precincts as the smallest unit. The committee will look at different criteria to ensure maps are fair including:

  • Equal population
  • Compact districts
  • Contiguous boundaries
  • Preservation of neighborhoods and communities

Some more background info:

The Redistricting Committee does not have the authority to assign precincts in order to achieve racial balancing. Their authority is only to create a balance between total district numbers and create minority opportunity districts. That is gerrymandering: making assignments to achieve a political goal. It is against the law.

City Councilor Liz Breadon is the chair of the redistricting committee and has the job of coming up with a compromise map.

Which districts in Dorchester are changing in the newly proposed NAACP map?

There have been several maps proposed to the Council. The particular map that the NAACP (etc.) have proposed are taking Ward and Precincts 16-08, 16-09, 16-11, 16-12, and 17-13 out of District 3.

Okay, so what? Well, some local Dorchester organizations, neighborhood groups and residents aren’t happy with these changes:

Military Veterans of Ward 16: “If these proposed maps were to pass, the veteran’s community, a longstanding and well-respected community of interest in Ward 16, also part of the historic core, will be separated into two districts…we stand ready to exercise our legal right, to ensure that the voices of veterans in Ward 16 are not silenced, and our voting rights are not diminished.”

Fr. Jack Ahern of Saint Gregory Parish: “This attempt to crack three parishes of Catholic voters from their historic place in District 3 and dividing them into two districts represents the cracking of a community of interest and breaking up a core of District 3’s historic map. Both are illegal under Federal and State redistricting laws…Discrimination on the basis of religion must never be tolerated in a free and just society and certainly not be a part of public policy making for bodies such as the Boston City Council.”

Molly Dunford Murphy (Former Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services as the Dorchester Coordinator 2002-2006): “Precincts 8 and 11 are very much part of the same neighborhood and community as precincts 12, 7, and 10. Additionally, when I served as the Dorchester coordinator and now as a civic member, the neighborhoods of Cedar Grove (16-11 and 16-12), Ashmont/Adams (16-8), and Neponset (16-7, 16-9, 16-10) regularly had issues and development projects that overlapped their areas. They also share a business district in Adams Village. Separating precincts 11 and 12 would unnecessarily cut the Cedar Grove neighborhood directly in half.”

Some local politicians (and Dorchester residents) have expressed their concerns as well:

City Councilor Frank Baker, District 3: “Our existing maps as they stand are not in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We shouldn’t be hurting communities for political aspirations.”

Councilor At-Large Erin Murphy: “District 3 has historically been a Dorchester District and is already a Minority-Majority District with 61.45% minorities. There is a vibrant Vietnamese, black, and Haitian community in D3. The changes that this current map is proposing does not preserve the strong neighborhoods in Neponset, Lower Mills, and Ashmont-Adams and will break up these strong communities without much benefit to the other Districts.”

Clerk Maureen Feeney (former Councilor of D3): “Representing D3 for 17 years, during which time I served as the President of the City Council and as Chair of the 2002 Redistricting Committee, gives me a unique perspective on the historical boundaries of District 3 and those of the rest of the City. In reviewing these proposed maps, I have grave concerns that the recommended changes of D3’s precincts 16 -8, 9, 11, and 12 and 17-13 will tear apart the very fabric of that community without any corresponding benefits.”

Are there any meetings coming up to discuss?

There will be a public offsite redistricting hearing hosted by the City Council on Thursday at 5:00 pm at the VietAID on 42 Charles Street in Dorchester to hear public testimony from residents in District 3 regarding the proposed redistricting.

The new proposed map will also split South Boston into 2 Districts.  You can read more about that here on our sister site Caught in Southie. 

South Boston Elected Officials will be holding an Emergency Meeting On Wednesday, October 19th at 6pm At The Condon School.



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