Newton's 10th Middlesex Portion Shrinks in Proposed Maps
Looking at the proposed maps for the state's redistricting, it appears the Newton's Ward 3, Precinct 4 will no longer be in the 10th Middlesex District.
Updated 4:05 p.m. with comments from Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton)
The Massachusetts Legislature's Special Joint Committee on Redistricting released its first draft maps yesterday outlining proposed redistricting plans.
In the proposed maps, the state's "majority-minority" districts grow from 10 to 20, according to a report from WBUR. These districts are where the majority of residents are African American, Latino, Asian or another minority group.
"I think [the committee] did a very nice job of being really open and having public input during the process," said State Rep. Ruth Balser (D-Newton). "They clearly have made a commitment to increasing the number of majority-minority districts and are clearly sensitive to the demographic changes in the state."
As for Newton specifically, the proposed maps have some slight changes for Newton's 11th and 12th Middlesex Districts, but the areas even out to be roughly the same size. There is a population difference of 765 people between the two districts, according to a draft statistics page from the committee.
One notable change is in the city's small representation in the 10th Middlesex District, which will grow even smaller according to the new map.
10th Middlesex - Rep. John Lawn (D-Watertown)
According to the maps released Tuesday, it appears Newton's Ward 3 Precinct 4 will be joined with the 11th Middlesex District, which is represented by Newton Democrat Kay Khan
The 10th Middlesex District, which is represented by John Lawn, a Watertown Democrat, currently covers Newton Ward 1, Precincts 1 and 4 as well as Ward 3, Precinct 4. If the maps pass, only the two Ward 1 precincts will remain in the 10th Middlesex District.
Overall, the district shrunk by 825 people, or 2.02 percent.
11th Middlesex - Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton)
With an additional precinct (Ward 3, Precinct 4) added in the proposed maps, the maps show Khan's district will lose Ward 5, Precinct 4 to the 12th Middlesex District, which is represented by Newton Democrat Ruth Balser.
The change, though, will unify Ward 3 for Khan's district.
"I'm sorry to lose one precinct, but I'm delighted to get to know my new precinct," Khan said.
Khan noted the work that she has done in Waban Ward 5, Preinct 4, including projects at the Waban MBTA station parking lot and sound barriers for Route 128.
Earlier this year, the city approved adding a fourth precinct to Ward 2, which was previously the only Ward in the city with three precincts. With that change, some of the precinct and Ward lines have shifted slightly and some residents could end up in a new district.
For example, Khan noted that some residents of Ward 6 will now be in Ward 2 with the new Ward/Precinct lines in Newton. Some of these residents, Khan noted, were part of her district more than a decade ago before the East-West split of the districts in Newton turned into a North-South division.
To view a copy of the 2012 Newton Ward map, check out the .pdfs to the left.
According to the committee's statistics report, the 11th Middlesex shrunk in population by 3.34 percent.
12th Middlesex - Rep. Ruth Balser (D-Newton)
As with the 11th Middlesex District, the proposed 12th Middlesex District will stay relatively unchanged. The proposed maps add Ward 5, Precinct 4, meaning the district will then only have one split Ward between the 11th and 12th District (Ward 7).
"I'm certainly pleased for Newton in that we will have two very strong districts," said Balser.
Balser explained that the addition of Ward 5, Precinct 4 will unify Ward 5 within her district and make voting less confusing for those residents. Currently, Precincts 3 and 4 of Ward 5 vote at the same polling location (Zervas Elementary) but are in two separate districts.
Between the 11th and 12th Middlesex Districts, the demographics are very close, with only slight differences between the White, African American, Hispanic and Asian populations in the districts.
Overall, according to the committee's report, the 12th Middlesex shrunk in population by 1.47 percent.
First Middlesex & Norfolk - Sen. Cindy Creem (D-Newton)
Sen. Cindy Creem, who represents the First Middlesex & Norfolk District in the State Senate, will continue to serve all of Newton as well as parts of Wellesley and Brookline in the proposed maps.
The district as a whole shrunk by 2,530 people, according to a population chart issued by the committee.
Congressional Districts - U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-4th)
According to WBUR.org, the Congressional maps have not been completed yet, as that redistricting is "further complicated by the need to eliminate one of Massachusetts' 10 districts."
The redistricting has come as a result of the 2010 census and a drop in the state's population.
In a letter posted on the Redistricting Committee's website, chairmen Sen. Stan Rosenberg, (D-Amherst), and Rep. Michael Moran, (D-Brighton), thanked all those who have been involved with the redistricting process, which started back in March with the committee's first meeting.
The committee is now looking for the public's opinion on the proposed maps. Comments can be made online.
"Over the next fourteen days we are asking for your comments on the draft maps before the Committee makes a recommendation to the General Court. The public comment period is the first time this has been done in Massachusetts and is an important component in what many have described as the most open, inclusive, and transparent redistricting process in the history of the state," the letter reads.
State representatives must live in their district for a full year prior to election, which means these redrawn maps need to be approved by Legislature and signed by Gov. Deval Patrick by Nov. 4, 2011 in order to meet the deadline of the Nov. 4, 2012 election, WBUR reports.