Redistricting plan would shake up representation in MetroWest
The first draft of the new map of the state’s legislative districts was unveiled yesterday, causing a stir in several MetroWest communities.
“There have been significant changes to the district, and I’m not particularly happy about it,” said Rep. Steven Levy, R-Marlborough, who has already spoken to the chairman of the redistricting committee, offering his own plan that leaves Marlborough intact.
The redistricting process redraws legislative and congressional districts based on each decade’s U.S. Census. The population count found an increase in residents in the Worcester area and a drop in population on Cape Cod and in western Massachusetts.
The state lost one of its 10 congressional seats as a result of the Census count. The new congressional boundaries will be revealed later this month.
Under the committee’s plan, Marlborough, which now fits within the 4th Middlesex District, would be split so that the northeastern portion of the city joins the 13th Middlesex. That district would also include a small section of north Framingham.
Levy said Marlborough’s city council has already passed a resolution voicing their opposition to the city being split in half, which Levy plans to submit to the committee. He said he is prepared to negotiate to keep Marlborough intact.
“I understand changes have to be made and nobody can keep the district exactly the way it was, but the priority ought to be to preserve the communities as a whole,” he said. “I absolutely appreciate the complexity of the task and the hard process that the committee has to go through, but I’m not happy with the results.”
The 4th Middlesex, in addition to losing northeastern Marlborough, would also lose Berlin and northeast Southborough while gaining southern Northborough and a middle sliver of Westborough.
Westborough had been split among the 9th Worcester, the 11th Worcester and the 8th Middlesex, with the dividing lines emanating from the center. Under the new plan, Westborough would be split vertically between the 11th Worcester, the 4th Middlesex and the 8th Middlesex.
Rep. Thomas Conroy, D-Wayland, and his 13th Middlesex would also gain the northeast portion of Framingham while losing eastern Wayland to the 14th Norfolk.
Conroy said he wouldn’t offer and opinion until “people of my district weigh in.”
Natick, now split between the 5th and 14th Middlesex districts, would be united as part of the 5th Middlesex district.
Southborough, now split between the 4th and 8th Middlesex districts, would be entirely in the 8th.
Framingham’s current split between the 6th and 7th Middlesex would shift so that the 7th is only in the southeast portion of the town, turning the southwest into the 6th.
In releasing the proposed maps at a State House event, the Redistricting Committee chairmen, Rep. Michael Moran, D-Brighton, and Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, stressed that this is a first draft and that this year’s redistricting process has been changed to include a weeklong public comment period before the committee votes.
This is the first time that the committee has allowed public comment prior to a vote.
“This openness and transparency has added to the value of the maps,” said Moran. “I believe it truly represents the faces of this state.”
The committee held 13 hearings across the state and received about 400 testimonies from the public.
Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, praised the committee for its open process this year.
“This is a substantial step forward and a marked break with the past where maps were rushed through the legislative process in a matter of days,” she said.
The committee’s vote would be followed by debate in the House and Senate around Oct. 31.