Cape unscathed by redistricting
Nov. 2, 2011
BOSTON — New legislative district maps passed the House and Senate on Tuesday with Cape Cod residents largely unaffected by the changes, despite a declining population in Barnstable County.
“I really don’t believe it’s going to affect the constituents much at all,” said state Rep. Cleon Turner, D-Dennis, in a telephone interview.
Turner, who gained Barnstable Precinct 1 in the redistricting process, doubted that voters would notice the changes.
He said many constituents are unfamiliar with their state representatives and unaware that the state is undergoing a redistricting process.
“It doesn’t matter who it is: Republican, Democrat, whatever, people are busy,” Turner said.
Turner said he considered sending a letter to each new voter in his district, but the price of postage would total $2,500. Instead, Turner will be “getting out there to introduce” himself.
Barnstable County experienced the steepest population drop in the state, 2.85 percent, over the last 10 years.
Meanwhile, Plymouth County, represented by Senate President Therese Murray, managed to grow by 4.67 percent, the fifth highest growth in the state.
That population shift caused Barnstable Precincts 10, 11 and 12 to be swapped into state Sen. Daniel Wolf’s district while shrinking Murray’s district.
The ideal population for a Senate district in Massachusetts is 163,691 people.
Murray’s district was 5.4 percent over that number; Wolf’s district was 2.7 percent under before redistricting.
“There was no place else for me to go. I had to lose because I was over (the ideal population number) and Sen. Wolf had to gain because he was under,” Murray said in a telephone interview.
Murray said she thought that the changes in districts would not put her or any of the Cape legislators at a disadvantage for re-election.
“I don’t think any of them lost that much of their base. I’d say they still have about 90 percent of the voters in their district,” Murray said.
The legislation awaits the governor’s signature.
New districts would be effective for the November 2012 elections.
District maps are available on the state Legislature’s website, www.malegislature.gov.