I recently published a summary of the redistricting plan now before the House.
Over the past few days an issue has arisen within Cambridge. Some have suggested that the redistricting plan would be improved by shifting Cambridge precinct 11-1 out of the 24th Middlesex (the district I now represent) into the 29th Middlesex. And swapping back Cambridge 11-2 into the 24th.
The 24th Middlesex district currently includes all of Ward 11 and precinct 10-3. The redistricting plan shifts 10-3 and 11-2 into the 29th Middlesex. 10-3 is geographically proximate to the 29th and if the 29th has to gain a precinct it makes sense to shift 10-3. The 29th apparently also needs to gain a second precinct and the question is whether that should be 11-1 or 11-2. I’m distressed to face the choice between them, but demographic shifts elsewhere force the choice. The recommendation of the committee was that 11-2 shift to the 29th and that 11-1 remain in the 24th.
Those favoring changing the plan to group 11-1 with the 29th suggest that since 11-1 and 10-3 share a lower-income and higher-minority demographic, lower-income and minority interests would be better represented if the two precincts are grouped together in the same district — they will tend to get more attention if they are together.
On the other hand, my own experience is that 11-1 has a lot of practical connection with 11-3. 11-1 and 11-3 both include neighborhoods heavily affected by flooding and traffic issues along Route 2. They also share concerns for park maintenance and land conservation in the Alewife Reservation. They also share close proximity to the Alewife T station. Also, 10-3 and 11-1 are separated from each other by the railroad tracks and there is not as much political interaction between the precincts as one might expect in the abstract.
On the other hand again, the adjustment to the plan would bring 11-2 and 11-3 together — they have a lot in common economically and demographically. They share practical concerns about traffic and development on Mass. Ave.
Trying to take myself out of the question as much possible and think only of the shape of the district, I think it is a close call. I haven’t actually heard from anyone within Ward 11 on the issue. I’d appreciate some input on the issue.
The maps on the redistricting website are a little hard to read. For a better view of the Camridge precincts involved, click here to view a Cambridge precinct map.
Will, how different are the demographics between 11-1 and 11-2? Does it make that much difference to the composition of the 29th?
I think, wearing my selfish good-for-Belmont hat, that I prefer 11-1 in the 24th. This assumes that this in some way gives our representative a better handle on flooding and traffic in Belmont, because 11-1 includes the Little River and Acorn Park. If I’m mistaken about this, then discount that, obviously.
I’d rather know where you come down on this Will. You know the district, what is your opinion at this stage?
Also I’d like to know what “old-timers” might think of this?
I have not been in the area hood long enough to have an informed opinion.
My personal opinion is that there are pro’s and con’s, and I’d much prefer to see all of Ward 11 together. But given that it has to split, I think that 11-1 belongs with 11-3. It may get more attention by being affiliated with the active 11-3 crowd and it definitely has a lot of Alewife issues in common with 11-3.
I appreciate the input people have given me here and by email.
Being in 11-2, I certainly feel much more kinship with 11-3 and 10-3 than 11-1. 11-1 feels like it should be part of Belmont. While I’d hate to lose you as my rep., and certainly issues such as development at the Faces site and so on impact me directly, it’s not the most natural relationship.
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