The Boston City Council is hoping the third's time the charm for their latest redistricting map submitted to Mayor Thomas Menino on Wednesday.
The Council supported a redistricting map at Wednesday's meeting by a vote of 11-2, with the two votes against the map coming from District 4 City Councilor Charles Yancey, and the chair of the Census Committee, District 2 City Councilor Bill Linehan.
The map now awaits Menino's approval or disapproval. Menino has vetoed the last two redistricting maps, citing concerns of an "over-concentration of protected groups" in districts both times.
The Council-approved map was originally submitted by Councilors Frank Baker, Rob Consalvo and Matt O'Malley. At Wednesday's meeting, District 7 City Councilor Tito Jackson offered amendments to the map that was approved (the amendments are included in attached map). By Council rules, the body had to support the amendments to have them pass, which it did 11-2, with Yancey and Linehan not supporting the amendments.
The Council then supported the map. Redistricting is legally required every 10 years, and is based upon statistics from the US Census.
Said At-Large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, "We prevented the cracking of District 2, protecting the voice of Asian-American and Latino voters in that district. We unpacked District 4 and created a strong opportunity for people of color in District 5. We worked hard to make Mattapan whole and successfully fought against the splitting of Jamaica Plain."
Keeping JP (Mostly) 'Whole'
Keeping Jamaica Plain whole was one of the top issues, and many residents attended the meeting with "We are JP" stickers.
At-Large City Councilor Felix Arroyo said he worked hard to keep a united Jamaica Plain, and he called today's map a "victory for Jamaica Plain."
"I am proud of what we were able to accomplish today," the JP resident said in a statement. "This new map brought Egleston Square back into the district, kept Forest Hills where it belongs while also creating a new district that increases the potential for people of color to be elected. The message from our community was heard and we have a victory today because of it."
The passed redistricting map keeps Ward 19, Precinct 7, that includes Forest Hills and the Bourne neighborhood as well as reuniting, Ward 11, Precinct 5, Egleston Square with the Jamaica Plain district. Ward 19, Precinct 12, which includes a bit of the Bourne neighborhood in the JP/Roslindale border area, moves from District 6 to District 4.
In addition, Arroyo said the map strengthens the voice of communities of color in District 5, represented by Consalvo.
Consalvo said he welcomes any change to his district, especially as a white man who most likely will be representing more people of color.
"Whatever comes out of this, unless we have a magic wand - districts are going to be impacted," said Consalvo. "I lose two precincts in Roslindale… for the greater common good. Other than Councilor Yancey… my district is second most impacted.
Yancey has stood firm saying he would not support any map that doesn't unite Mattapan. Yancey said there is an "opportunity to design a plan that really reflects the makeup of Boston – the majority of people of color." According to the 2012 Census, 53 percent of Boston's population are people of color.
But many councilors have said behind the scenes that Mattapan needs to be split due to its high percentage of people of color - around 90 percent.
Consalvo said the approved map addresses the mayor's vetoes, too, and from talking with the city's legal representation, he believes litigation would not be sought against the city for having an unfair redistricting map.
"My district is already in the mid 60s (percent) of minority population, now (with approved map) it goes into the mid 70s, creating a strong fourth district of color. It's a seismic shift in District 5. I’m not afraid of it, I welcome it," said Consalvo. He added, "They’re going to love the service they get in District 5. Cross over the line and ask. I welcome the opportunity to represent more people of color."