City Councilors React to Mayor Menino's Veto of Their Redistricting Map
After 16 months of trying to come up with a map, it was vetoed by the mayor, sending the Boston City Council back to the drawing board.
After Boston Mayor Thomas Menino rejected the redistricting map passed by the City Council, councilors say they're ready to create a new map that will represent all people fairly. Menino said the plan left people of color concentrated in too few districts.
City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley, who voted against the map on Aug. 23 (the map passed the council narrowly, 7-6), said she knows the Council can do better.
“We know the diversity of this city is only growing. Our final map needs to go farther to increase equitable representation, voice, power and influence in city elections,” said Pressley, who warned her peers during the Council's vote the city could face a lawsuit if a non-inclusive map were approved by the city.
District 2 City Councilor Bill Linehan, who chaired the council's redistricting committee and voted for the map, told Boston.com, “It’s unfortunate that we spent 16 months working on this, and the way this has been set up, a sleight of pen from the mayor sends us back to square one." Linehan did not immediately return a phone call to Patch.
District 7 City Councilor Tito Jackson, who voted against the proposed map, had presented a rival map with District 6 City Councilor Matt O'Malley. They said their map would move 10 precincts instead of 12, keep the South End closer to rest of the district and keep South Boston together.
"We live in a more diverse city than ever in the past," said Jackson during the Council's vote, "54 percent of color. Each precinct and district should reflect that increased diversity. When I see a map that moves two of the three most diverse precincts from District 2 - that makes me not want to vote and support that map..."
O'Malley, who voted for the redistricting map, said "I look forward to working with my colleagues and trying to find a responsible map that keeps neighborhoods whole, and finding a compromise that is fair and equitable going forward."
O'Malley said he hopes the council will revisit the map he and Jackson submitted. "But it’s a very difficult issue. Redistricting is always a complex issue and we want an open and fair transparent process."
Council President Stephen Murphy, who also supported the scotched map, said in a statement that the mayor gave "thoughtful review and suggestions for further discussion. It has always been the intention of the council and the committee to create a map that represents all interests of the city."
At-Large Boston City Councilor Felix Arroyo, who voted against the map, also released a statement: “I am grateful Mayor Menino vetoed the redistricting map. I voted against the map because I believed we could do better. This is an opportunity to pass a map that best reflects our City and ensures everyone can have a voice in our government.”
The city must redistrict by November, a year before the next municipal election in 2013. Redistricting happens across the entire country every 10 years based upon the U.S. Census.
Boston has a "strong mayor" system of government in which elected councilors act as a legislative arm to a powerful executive branch.