New political maps shake legislative constituencies | New
BOSTON – A state panel on Tuesday released new political maps for Massachusetts that will dramatically shake up legislative constituencies in the region.
On Tuesday, the Joint Legislative Committee on Redistribution released a draft of redesigned Massachusetts House and Senate districts based on the 2020 census tally. The new maps include major changes in some legislative districts aimed at ensure greater representation of minorities in certain regions.
As part of the plan, which must be approved by the Legislature, a new Lawrence-centered minority state Senate district would be created by moving the town and a section of Haverhill out of the Second Senate District of Essex and Middlesex, who is currently being held. by Senator Barry Finegold, D-Andover.
The new Senate seat would also absorb parts of Haverhill and Methuen, which are currently part of the First District of Essex occupied by Senator Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen.
Senator William Brownsberger, D-Belmont, co-chair of the committee, said the changes are intended to alleviate a “polarized” Senate district where whites have traditionally voted for white candidates, while Hispanics tend to vote for Hispanic candidates .
“The regroupment is such that Lawrence’s Hispanic candidates are systematically beaten,” Brownsberger said Tuesday. “This is a very clear violation of voting rights and one that we intend to correct.”
The creation of a section of downtown Haverhill for the new 19th Senate district will create a new “majority-minority” district where more than 50% of the voting age population is Hispanic, he said.
Meanwhile, the Second Senate District of Essex and Middlesex would take over sections of Haverhill, Amesbury and Merrimac to make up for the loss of Lawrence and other communities.
The Second Senate District of Essex, which is currently represented by Senator Joan Lovely, D-Salem, would get rid of Topsfield, who would move to the First Senate District of Essex and Middlesex.
The District of First Essex and Middlesex, which is represented by Senator Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, will absorb Newburyport from the District of First Essex.
In the House, the redistribution plan will reconfigure existing legislative districts to create 33 new âmajority and minority opportunityâ districts, where white non-Hispanic residents constitute less than 50% of the total population.
Of these 33 districts, the plan provides for 10 âmajority-minorityâ districts where more than 50% of the voting age population is black or Hispanic.
Locally, the changes will reconfigure the 16th and 17th Districts of Essex to create three majority-minority Hispanic districts in the Lawrence and Methuen area.
Representative Michael Moran, D-Brighton, who co-chaired the committee, said the reconfigured House districts in the Lawrence and Methuen area would “reflect” the changing demographics of the region.
Meanwhile, Essex 4th District, which until recently was represented by Rep. Brad Hill, R-Ipswich, will be reconfigured to create a new majority minority district.
The 4th arrondissement, which currently includes Ipswich, Rowley, Topsfield, Hamilton, Wenham and Manchester, is considered âincumbentâ because it is vacant. Hill resigned in September to serve on the state gaming commission.
The publication of draft political maps is the first step in the process of approving boundary changes. Lawmakers will seek public comment on the proposed maps, and then ultimately put them to a vote. The deadline for public comments is October 18 at 5 p.m.
The US Constitution requires states to redesign congressional constituencies every ten years to accommodate population changes. The numbers also guide the design of state legislative districts and local electoral districts.
Massachusetts’ population has grown from around 6.5 million in 2010 to just over 7 million last year, making it the 15th most populous state in the country, according to recently released census data. Most of this growth has occurred in the eastern part of the state, particularly in the North Boston area.
While congressional district boundaries may also change, Massachusetts will not see a net change in its representation in Congress, based on the 2020 population count. Its nine-member delegation to the House of Representatives will retain this size. for at least a decade.
Committee members said Tuesday that maps of congressional districts and those of governor’s council seats will be released at a later date.
Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for newspapers and the websites of the North of Boston Media Group. Email him at [email protected]