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Boston City Council passes new redistricting map, avoiding delay of fall elections

City of Boston redistricting map approved by City Council May 24, 2023. (Courtesy City Council)
City of Boston redistricting map approved by City Council May 24, 2023. (Courtesy City Council)

The Boston City Council voted on Wednesday to pass a new redistricting map, hitting a key deadline and avoiding a delay of the fall elections.

The vote marks the conclusion of a brutal political process marked by personal insults and animosity. Councilors fought hard to keep specific precincts in their districts after a federal judge blocked their first attempt at a map, ruling that the council had improperly considered race while drawing district lines.

But the compromise map that civil rights committee chair Ruthzee Louijeune presented Wednesday had enough support to pass 10-2.

"We have a membership of 12," she said. "It is really difficult to get everyone and everything that everyone wants in a map."

The new map seeks to comply with the judge's order by keeping whiter, more conservative-leaning areas of southern Dorchester together in Councilor Frank Baker's District 3. Baker was one of the four councilors who personally helped fund the lawsuit against the old map.

The map also keeps a specific Mattapan precinct in Councilor Ricardo Arroyo's District 5. Arroyo had criticized Louijeune's map in the days leading up to the vote, for proposing to move parts of Mattapan out of his district, which he argued diluted the neighborhood's voting power.

On Wednesday, he voted in favor of the redrawn map.

The new map also unites the Little Saigon area of Dorchester, and keeps together Chinatown and South Boston.

The remaining dissenting voices were At-Large City Councilor Julia Mejia and Councilor Kendra Lara, whose District 6 includes parts of Jamaica Plain, Roslindale and West Roxbury.

"My 'no' vote today was a reflection of my disinterest in upholding the status quo here in the city of Boston," Lara said in an interview after the vote. "We got a once-in-a-decade opportunity to make sure that our most marginalized communities had the ability to elect the candidate of their choice, by making real decisions, and we didn't."

The map now goes to Mayor Michelle Wu for her signature. If approved, it will remain in place for the next 10 years.


Walter Wuthmann General Assignment Reporter
Walter Wuthmann is a general assignment reporter for WBUR.



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