Mass. Senate, House approve new district maps; gov must OK
November 2, 2011
BOSTON –Massachusetts legislators approved the new maps for the state Legislature yesterday that bring few changes locally.
The state Senate voted 36-0 in favor of a redistricting plan for the 40-member chamber, while representatives separately approved the proposed map for the 160-member House by a vote of 151-3.
The three against it were Rep. Steven Levy, R-Marlboro, Rep. Thomas Conroy, D-Wayland and Rep. Bradford Hill, R-Ipswich. Seven other lawmakers were absent.
The two chambers later approved each other’s maps without debate, sending them on to Gov. Deval Patrick for his signature.
The new map increases the number of districts in which minority voters make up a majority of the population from 10 to 20.
The map also rejects the state’s history of gerrymandering, the process of weakening the clout of certain communities by splitting them between different districts, he added.
Rep. Michael Moran, D-Boston, said the doubling of majority-minority districts makes state government more inclusive.
“Never in the history of the commonwealth have minorities been more empowered to elect the candidate of their choice than they are when we enact this bill,” he said. “I believe this bill reflects the many, many faces of Massachusetts.”
Rep. Kevin Murphy’s district in Lowell is one of the newly recognized majority-minority districts. While its boundaries have not changed since the last redistricting 10 years ago, the demographics of its residents have.
No changes were made in Lowell, Billerica, Wilmington, Dracut, Tyngsboro, Littleton or Westford, but some adjustments were made to Chelmsford and Tewksbury to reflect population shifts.
The two East Tewksbury precincts represented by Rep. Paul Adams, R-Andover, will move to the district of another freshman Republican from Andover, Rep. James Lyons.
Adams, who moved this week to a different Andover neighborhood so that he would not be running against Lyons in a redrawn district, said he is sad to lose his Tewksbury precincts.
“I know the people in Tewksbury, and I know the community,” he said. “So I’ll still be around. I’m always in Tewksbury. I’ve been shopping and working there for 20 years.”
Chelmsford’s Precinct 3, the northwest section of the town, moves from the district represented by Rep. James Arciero, D-Westford, to that of Rep. Thomas Golden, D-Lowell. Precinct 8, to the south of Precinct 3, will switch from Golden’s district to Arciero’s.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.