Effort to Rescind New District Maps Struck Down

A move to rescind the redistricting maps approved by the City Council at its Nov. 15 failed on a procedural vote Monday night.

Councillors Yamir Rodriguez, Judith Garcia, Damali Vidot, Giovanni Recupero, and Enio Lopez introduced the order to rescind the vote on a new district map that was amended by Council President Roy Avellaneda at the Nov. 15 meeting. Recupero voted for the map at the Nov. 15 meeting, but joined the three councillors who voted against the new map, and Vidot, who was absent on Nov. 15, in introducing the order to rescind.

The order did not make it to a formal vote, as Avellaneda ruled the motion was out of order. Garcia challenged the ruling, but the effort to overturn Avellaneda’s ruling came up short by a 6-5 vote, with the makers of the motion to rescind voting to overturn the council president’s ruling, and the remainder of the councillors voting to uphold Avellaneda’s ruling.

The biggest changes on the map are in the new Districts 5 and 7. The new District 5 combines the Box District with Bellingham Hill, while District 7 is centered on the downtown, stretching from the courthouse to City Hall and Broadway. The new District 7 also separates the historic waterfront district and pairs it with the downtown/Broadway area.

Garcia spoke against approving the map that was ultimately approved, noting that in District 8 especially, she felt that the redistricting was diluting the voices of People of Color and creating some districts that combined areas with different characters.

The redistricting process takes place every 10 years using data from the U.S. Census to create equitable voting districts and precincts of approximately the same size.

While no councillors were able to speak on the motion to rescind from the chambers Monday night since it was ruled out of order, several School Committee members used the public speaking portion of the meeting to support a vote to rescind the map that was approved last week.

“I’m asking the council to rescind the map that was passed last meeting and open an actual community input process for municipal redistricting,” said School Committee member Roberto Jimenez.

Among other reasons to rescind the vote, Jimenez said the new lines could decrease representation by putting current District 6 Councillor Recupero and current District 4 Councillor Lopez in the same district.

Jimenez said there was also little discussion during the process about how to keep together communities of interest in the drafts of the maps.

“Looking at the deadline of Dec. 15 (to have the maps approved by the state), we can have more conversations about these precincts before the decisions are made,” said Jimenez.

He also noted that the Dec. 15 deadline is for precinct, not district, boundaries, adding that the precinct lines could be submitted to the state, and then the city could take more time to determine how to best match up the precincts.

District 3 School Committee member Marisol Santiago said she agreed that there has to be a closer look at the precinct and district lines.

“These two districts that would be impacted deserve to have equal representation, and it doesn’t seem like the map that was proposed would allow for that level of equity that has existed,” said Santiago.

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