Redisricting Maps are Out

The Special Joint Committee on Redistricting Committee has released its draft maps for comment. The legislature’s redistricting webpage now includes the proposed new maps.

I am currently a candidate for State Senate in the 2d Suffolk and Middlesex District seat vacated by Senator Tolman. In the special election to be held on December 13, I will be competing for the votes of the existing district, which includes North and West Cambridge, Belmont, Watertown, Brighton and parts of Allston and Back Bay. If elected, I will serve that district from January 2012 to January 2013. In the Fall of 2012, I will need to be reelected in the new 2d Suffolk and Middlesex District which loses its Cambridge precincts and picks up more of Back Bay.

The House district that I currently serve, the 24th Middlesex District, will continue to include all of Belmont and several precincts in Arlington and Cambridge. However, apparently to accommodate population shifts in other towns, the district swings around from Cambridge towards Arlington — it loses precincts 10-3 and 11-2 in Cambridge (keeping 11-1 and 11-3), and gains precincts 8, 10, 12, 14 in Arlington (while keeping precinct 4 and losing precinct 2).

Both the House District and the Senate District changed more than I expected them to. I am saddened by the prospect that in 2013, I would cease to officially represent friends in Cambridge (whether as state representative or as state senator), but I look forward to continuing all of the friendships and collaborative relationships that we have built, regardless of district boundaries.

The maps are not quite final and it will be interesting to hear public reactions to the maps across the state — locally and across the state.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

11 replies on “Redisricting Maps are Out”

  1. Will, I realize that there is ample room to hide gimmicks and corruption in an allegedly fair computer algorithm, but those squiggly and convoluted boundaries are not confidence-inspiring. People in (parts of) my business have spent decades working on clustering and smoothing algorithms that would surely come up with districts that were not quite so bizarre-looking. Yes, I know there’s lots of constraints, but seems to me we could come up with metrics to decide if one redistricting is better than another. I’m not saying it’s easy, and the metrics themselves are also subject to jimmying (for example, suppose 10% of the population is “black”. Does that mean that 10% of the districts should be majority black, or that every district should be 10% black? You get very different outcomes from those two choices.)

    (Now you’re going to tell me that this IS the result of just such an algorithm….)

    Notably bad examples are 33 Middlesex and 35 Middlesex; and 17 and 18 Suffolk. 15 Norfolk could be more compact, too.

    1. Compactness is only one consideration. The biggest consideration, a legal requirement, is assuring that there are more “majority-minority” districts — districts in which racial and ethnic minorities are grouped together, giving them a better shot at electing a candidate from their own group.

      I can’t judge other districts — we’ll have to hear public reaction over the coming days. But we have roughly doubled the number of majority-minority districts from 10 to 20 in this cycle.

  2. Rationalizing these maps to be more contiguous and clustered would challenge long-term relationships that reps have built with constituents. That might be a good thing in the long run, but it would entail a lot of difficult adjustments. Folks who don’t follow electoral politics might not find out who their reps were for years and end up being underserved.

    As for the 2nd S&M race, I suggest that Will schedule meet & greets in Back Bay in addition to Brighton/Allston. Many students live in both areas, but beyond that those are rather different constituencies.

  3. Although it doesn’t directly change my representation this map does look suspicious for Arlington. The 4 highest voting precincts in town have been removed from Arlington which will decrease our ability to make our voice heard as one community. I would think that there could have been a way to better draw the maps so that Arlington wouldn’t become eviscerated! And Sean Garballey was on the committee. What was he doing?

    1. My understanding is that I had to lose a couple of precincts in Cambridge and pickup a couple in Arlington to accommodate a shift of the reps in Waltham and Watertown. I had expected actually that only one precinct was involved though.

      I have been open to adding any precincts adjacent to those that I already represent in Arlington.

      1. To ask a dumb question, I think I live in 11-1, but I have not found a simple, easy to read district map that indicates boundaries and streets.

        Would I lose Will as a Rep or Senator in any of the redistricting scenarios that could be adopted?


        1. I think you live in 11-2 — you vote at the Peabody School, right?

          To my great chagrin, you actually lose me either way — I lose precinct 11-2 from the 24th Middlesex and the Second Suffolk loses all of its Cambridge precincts in the redistricting.

          Look at this way — you’ll have two friends in the senator, me and whomever actually represents you.

          1. Yes, I vote at the Peabody School . . .
            Well then I don’t like any of the re-districting plans. OK, I see that information just above. Sorry I did not bother to read carefully.

            At least I will get to vote for you one more time.

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