A couple of weeks ago, MerrimackMan (MM) over at RMG posted some ideas for the redistricting committee to consider when redrawing the State Senate lines this year. I had already been hard at work on drawing my own maps, and since they vary a bit from what MM did, I figured there was no better place to post them than the brand new BMG 3.0.
Much like MM, I used the following guidelines when drawing my maps:
- I tried to keep as many incumbents in their districts as possible.
- I tried to avoid splitting municipalities when possible.
- I kept all districts within 5% of their optimal population (163,691 is the target population I worked with)
However, I added a criteria that MM did not use, in that I set out to create as many majority-minority districts as I possible could. Here’s the broad new map:
I have pasted new maps for all 40 Senate districts below, but here are the major changes that will probably earn me the most angry calls, comments, and emails:
- I tried to make districts more compact whenever possible, and avoid long narrow districts if I could help it. This resulted in major changes to some districts, and the elimination of another.
- I created a total of four majority minority districts. One (in Suffolk County) already exists. Another I crafted by extending the Lynn district down into Chelsea and East Boston, and two others I created as new districts. Obviously this impacted other districts.
- I assumed that Senator Pacheco would win his expected campaign for Mayor of Taunton, and leave the State Senate after this term.
Ok, here we go, starting in the West.
Berkshire, Hampshire & Franklin District – Currently represented by Senator Ben Downing (D-Pittsfield)
The population continues to shift to the east, which means that Senator Downing’s district needs to do the same. Since his easterly neighbor (Senator Rosenberg) is one of two men charged with redrawing the maps, Downing will likely have to take whatever he is given. I have zero insight into what that might be, so I essentially cut the top part off of Rosenberg’s district (Buckland, Shelburne, Colrain, Leyden, Bernardston, Northfield, Erving, and Wendell, plus Warwick from Brewer’s district) and added it to Downing’s. For Downing, the new district has the benefit of starting to more closely resemble the First Congressional, should the First Congressional actually exist in 2012.
Hampshire & Hampden – Currently represented by Senator Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst)
As noted above, Senator Rosenberg can draw his own map. Under my scenario, he loses a bunch of towns in the northern part of his district to Downing, and a couple of towns on his eastern border to Brewer, but adds Granby, the rest of Belchertown, and Ware, which results in a more compact district.
Hampden & Hampshire – Currently represented by Senator Michael Knapik (R-Westfield) and Senator Jim Welch (D-West Springfield)
As you can tell from the line above, this is the first district that starts to get interesting. These two Senators currently reside in abutting towns that are both overwhelmingly white. Just to the east are the three old cities of Springfield, Chicopee, and Holyoke. There is a tremendous opportunity to create a new district in those three communities that is not only majority-minority, but majority hispanic. In order to make that work, however, (and ensure that it’s not just a majority-minority district that’s represented by a hard-to-unseat white incumbent) we need to set up a grudge match between somebody, and the proximity of Knapik and Welch offers the easiest opportunity. All you have to do is take Chicopee and most of Holyoke out of Knapik’s district, and add West Springfield, Agawam, and Longmeadow.
This is obviously an extremely unlikely scenario, but if there is any sort of real effort to bring more minorities into the State Senate, it should start here.
Hampshire – New district
So assuming we combine Knapik and Welch, that leaves us with the following slice of Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield.
As noted above, this district is not just majority-minority, but majority hispanic. Out of a total population of 163,451, just 32.8% of the total population is white, versus 46.8% Hispanic and 16.2% Black. The gap in the voting population narrows a bit, but still shows a 40.5% Hispanic majority, versus 39.6% white. By carving it out as a new district, a huge opportunity is created for a Hispanic candidate to take this seat.
Hampshire & Worcester – Currently represented by Senator Gale Candaras (D-Wilbraham)
In tune with the shifting population, this district slides slightly south and east, ceding Granby and Belchertown to Rosenberg, Longmeadow to Welch/Knapik, and picking up a number of towns in the eastern corner of Hampden county that are currently represented by Senator Brewer (Monson, Palmer, Brimfield, Wales, Holland, and Warren).
The name of the district also changes, as it loses its towns in Hampshire County and adds Warren from Worcester County. (Note: this district keeps big chunks of Springfield and Chicopee, but maintains an 87% white voting population.
So that’s Western Mass. Now that’s move on to Central Mass:
Worcester & Franklin – Currently represented by Senator Stephen Brewer (D-Barre)
As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways & Means, Brewer will probably have some influence over the shape of his district. Luckily, it doesn’t really need to change all that much. I took out everything he had in Hampden County and gave it to Candaras, then added New Salem and Shutesbury from Franklin County in the West (thus the name of this district changed as well).
Under this scenario, Brewer would also pick up Southbridge, Dudley, and Webster on his southeastern border from Senator Dick Moore.
Worcester & Middlesex – Currently represented by Senator Jen Flanagan (D-Leominster)
I think this district changed less than any other (save the Cape & Islands). The population more or less held steady in this part of the state. All I did was add Pepperell to Flanagan’s district, while kicking Bolton over to Senator Eldridge.
First Worcester – Currently represented by Senator Harriett Chandler (D-Worcester)
Chandler’s district also remained mostly the same. I took out Berlin and Northborough, but added more of Worcester, mostly to maximize the impact of the only significant minority population in the region.
However, even after including all the minority neighborhoods in Worcester, the voting population remains 68% white, 16.9% Hispanic, 7.7% Black, and 5% Asian.
Second Worcester – Currently represented by Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury)
I took Upton out of this district, and certain parts of Worcester, but otherwise it is more or less intact.
Worcester, Middlesex & Norfolk – Currently represented by Senator Dick Moore (D-Uxbridge)
The biggest changes to this district come in the southwest (where I moved three towns into Senator Brewer’s district), and in the northeast, where I added Westborough, Upton, and Hopkington. The changes are actually fairly minimal considering how boxed in this district is by population shifts (and Senator Ross to the east).
Middlesex & Worcester – Currently represented by Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton)
I was able to condense this district a bit by adding the rest of Northborough, Berlin, and Bolton and taking out Sudbury and Westborough. Otherwise it’s pretty much the same.
So that’s Central Mass. Now let’s move to the Merrimack Valley and the North Shore:
First Middlesex – Currently represented by Senator Eileen Donoghue (D-Lowell)
This is the second region where things start to get interesting in the quest to add majority-minority districts. First off, I took Pepperell and gave it to Jen Flanagan. Secondly, I added Chelmsford, Dracut, and most of Tewksbury. But then the district drastically changed shape, as I had to hijack huge parts of Lowell from Senator Donoghue in order to create another majority minority district.
Again, I don’t really see this happening, as it basically makes Donoghue the Senator for the perimeter (whiter) areas of Lowell, while carving out the middle of the city. However, shaping the First Middlesex this way allows me to create the First Middlesex and Essex.
First Middlesex & Essex – New district
The First Middlesex & Essex district would include most of Lowell, all of Lawrence, and parts of Andover and Tewksbury (for contiguity’s sake). The end result looks like this:
In terms of voting population, the new district would be 41% white, 40.5% Hispanic, 12.2% Asian, and 4% black, creating another major pickup opportunity for a minority candidate.
Second Middlesex & Essex – Currently represented by Barry Finegold (D-Andover)
Senator Finegold currently represents Lawrence, but in the hopes of electing a minority Senator, I have crafted his district out of Andover, Carlisle, Billerica, Reading, North Reading, Middleton, and part of Lynnfield.
First Essex – Currently represented by Senator Steven Baddour (D-Methuen)
This district barely changed at all, except that it looks like Senator Baddour’s district has actually grown beyond the target population and he might have to drop part of Newburyport.
Second Essex – Currently represented by Senator Fred Berry (D-Peabody)
I changed two key things here: 1) I dropped Topsfield and Danvers to help make the Third Essex more compact, and I added Swampscott and Marblehead for reasons that will become clear later.
Third Essex – Currently represented by Senator Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester)
This district is currently called the First Essex and Middlesex, because for some reason it skips Topsfield and Danvers and extends all the way through North Reading to Wilmington. I corrected that here, and also dropped Middleton.
Second Middlesex* – Currently represented by Senator Ken Donnelly (D-Arlington) and Senator Sue Fargo (D-Lincoln)
*Note – Senator Jehlen actually represents the Second Middlesex currently, but I am trying to simplify.
This is the only district where I match up two Democratic incumbents, and I imagine it is more unlikely than any other scenario I have presented. However, in a number of different maps that I drew, this combination option made the most sense, as it combines an expansive district (Fargo’s) with a narrow, ill-fitting one (Donnelly) to make a more compact district. I’m taking my phone off the hook.
Third Middlesex – Currently Represented by Senator Karen Spilka (D-Ashland)
I tried to keep this district mostly intact, but was hamstrung by the pressure coming from the west. Thus I had to cut off Hopkington and pass it over to Senator Moore. To make up for it (and the loss of Holliston, Medway, and Franklin, which didn’t feel as egregious), I added Sherborn, the rest of Natick, all of Sudbury, and 3/4 of Wayland to Spilka’s district.
The new alignment means Spilka’s hometown of Ashland is not smack dab in the middle of the district anymore, but in reality its a Framingham based district anyway.
Now, let’s take a look at the communities South of Boston:
First Norfolk & Bristol – Currently represented by Senator James Timility (D-Walpole)
This district is one of the long, narrow districts I tried to eliminate, as it currently stretches from Dover all the way south to Seekonk and Rehobeth. Under my plan (I feel like Al Gore in the lockbox SNL skits), the southern portion of the district (Seekonk, Rehobeth, Attleboro, and Norton) would be dropped. In return, Timility would pick up Norfolk, Westwood, Millis, Franklin, and Medway.
The new district is much more compact and brings together a number of like-communities.
Bristol & Norfolk – Currently represented by Senator Richard Ross (R-Wrentham)* and Senator Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton)
*Note: Wishing Senator Ross a speedy recovery.
Now, you might have noticed that, through the repositioning of Spilka and Timility, I have effectively eliminated Senator Ross’s current district (and the district that made Scott Brown famous). I would be shocked – SHOCKED – to see something like this happen. That being said, Ross’s current district stretches from Wayland and Needham all the way down to Attleboro, creating a long and random map that is hell on a campaign staffer’s 1998 Nissan Maxima (or so I’m told).
And so I give you the new and improved Bristol & Norfolk district, which now encompasses Wrentham, North Attleboro, Attleboro, Norton, and Taunton.
Realistically, this district probably wouldn’t impact Ross, Dan Winslow, or any other aspiring Republicans, as Attleboro and Taunton aren’t exactly Cambridge and Somerville. However, the new configuration would put reliably Democratic towns like Needham back in Democratic districts, and at least make Ross work for his re-election. Plus, if Senator Pacheco does decide to run again, he could possibly take another Republican out.
First Bristol – Currently represented by Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport)
Before I cover the two Bristol County seats, I need to note that it was impossible for me to carve out a majority-minority district in this region. According to the 2010 Census, both Fall River and New Bedford are overwhelmingly white, so I can’t carve out a predominantly Portuguese Senate seat, and the reported Hispanic numbers are not even close to enough. So if anyone is wondering why I combined Lowell and Lawrence and not Fall River and New Bedford, there’s your answer.
Back to the First Bristol. This is a Fall River based seat, and that’s not going to change.
However, I was able to make the district more compact and logical by adding Seekonk and Rehoboth and dropping Freetown, Lakeville, and Rochester.
Second Bristol – Currently represented by Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford)
This district also remained mostly the same, and is obviously based in New Bedford.
All I did was add Freetown and drop Mattapoisett, which allowed me to drop the Plymouth from the name of the district.
Plymouth, Barnstable & Bristol – New district
This is the district that makes the least amount of sense in my new configuration. Here’s what I had in mind when I drew it:
- Senator Pacheco is running for Mayor of Taunton, so his district can be carved up.
- Plymouth added significant population, which allows Senate President Therese Murray to consolidate her district a little bit.
- All of Murray’s pesky challenges seem to come from Sandwich.
So keeping those thoughts in mind, I give you the new Plymouth, Barnstable & Bristol District:
The new district would essentially be a Cape Cod Canal/Buzzards Bay district, encompassing Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth, Wareham, Marion, and Mattapoisett, as well as Dighton, Berkeley, Rochester, Lakeville, and Middleboro. It’s not going to add a minority Senator, but it will help bring in more new blood.
Cape & Islands – Currently represented by Senator Dan Wolf (D-Harwich)
This district is almost entirely the same, except it adds the rest of Barnstable.
Plymouth – Currently represented by Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth)
By keeping her district completely above the Canal, the Senate President could probably avoid challenges from those pesky Cape kids, while adding some towns that probably have more in common with her hometown of Plymouth.
I added Duxbury, Marshfield, Halifax, and Hanson to the district, which both makes it more compact, and ensures that Plymouth, and not the Cape, remains the power center of the district.
Plymouth & Bristol – Currently represented by Senator Tom Kennedy (D-Brockton)
As this plan shifts the landscape around him, Senator Kennedy’s district would obviously be impacted. I dropped Easton, Halifax, Hanson, and Hanover from his district, and added Raynham, Bridgewater, and all of East & West Bridgewater to his district.
Given the shared school system, it makes sense to keep Bridgewater and Raynham together, and as all three Bridgewaters are mostly made up of angry ex-Brocktonians anyway, it seems logical to put them in the same district with the City of Champions. Whitman would be split between Kennedy and Murray.
Second Norfolk & Bristol – Currently represented by Brian A. Joyce (D-Milton)
Joyce and Kennedy currently share East & West Bridgewater, as well as Easton. I have both Bridgewaters fully to Kennedy, and add all of Easton to Joyce’s district. The plan also adds Norwood and all of Sharon, while taking away Braintree and part of Randolph.
I realize that I have now lopped two towns off of Senator Rush’s district (Norwood and Westwood), but be patient, I will get to it.
Plymouth & Norfolk – Currently represented by Senator Bob Hedlund (R-Weymouth)
Hedlund would lose two key towns (Marshfield and Duxbury) to Senator Murray under this map, but would replace them with Hanover (Hanover native Garrett Quinn tells me the town has the highest percentage of registered Republicans in the state), Abington, and Rockland – all of which are similar in makeup to Hedlund’s hometown of Weymouth.
Norfolk – Currently represented by Senator John Keenan (D-Quincy)
The Norfolk district is dominated by Quincy. It is currently called the Norfolk & Plymouth, but by adding Abington and Rockland to Hedlund’s district, and adding all of Braintree and part of Randolph, it becomes completely Norfolk based.
Before I get to Boston, I want to skip over the city to cover the districts currently represented by Senators Clark and Jehlen, because I only made minor changes.
Middlesex & Norfolk – Currently represented by Senator Cynthia Creem (D-Newton)
Not much to see here. It’s still a Brookline/Newton district, I just added Weston and dropped part of Wellesley.
Fifth Middlesex – Currently represented by Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville)
Minor changes. Added the rest of Woburn and (I think) more of Somerville.
Third Middlesex & Essex – Currently represented by Senator Katherine Clark (D-Melrose)
The major changes to this district were the addition of Saugus and the rest of Melrose, and the subtraction of Reading and part of Lynnfield.
It makes for a very compact district.
Now on to Boston:
First Suffolk – Currently represented by Senator Jack Hart (D-Boston)
Some of the Boston districts are a bit challenging when it comes to figuring out what I actually changed. I can’t find a good map that shows the precinct breakdown. In the case of Hart’s district I don’t think I altered it too much. It’s obviously a Southie-based district that extends through Dorchester and into Mattapan.
Second Suffolk – Currently represented by Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston)
Like the First Suffolk, I can’t really tell how much I changed in the Second, but the district is pretty compact, and has the state’s highest concentration of black voters at 23.5%. The district is 46.3% white, 17.6% Hispanic, and 8.7% Asian. It’s our third majority-minority district.
Maybe Howard or one of the other Bostonians can tell me what’s different about these first two Suffolk districts.
Suffolk & Norfolk – Currently represented by Senator Mike Rush (D-Boston)
This district I essentially redrew, dropping Westwood and Norwood (as noted above) and adding all of Needham, and part of Wellesley.
Changing the district allowed me to a) be more compact elsewhere and b) further cut into Ross’s district. Plus, I know a few liberals in Roslindale who would love to have Needham’s Democratic vote join them in a primary.
Middlesex and Suffolk – Currently represented by Senator Warren Tolman (D-Boston)
I made some pretty big changes to the next four districts, starting with Senator Tolman’s. For starters, I took the rest of Allston/Brighton out of Senator DiDomenico’s district and put it all in Senator Tolman’s. I also aded a huge chunk of Watertown. However, I cut the Back Bay, Longwood, and all of Somerville and Cambridge.
The new district then becomes essentially Watertown, Belmont, Waltham, and AB.
Fourth Middlesex – Currently represented by Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett)
The changes I made to DiDomenico’s district remove it entirely from Suffolk County (I dropped both parts of AB and Charlestown, as well as Chelsea). I also dropped parts of Revere and Saugus, to add some more sanity to the district.
In the end, the seat is made up of Everett, Cambridge, and part of Somerville. It allows for heavy influence from minority populations, as it is 62% white, 10% black, 11% Hispanic, and 12.5% Asian. It also unifies Cambridge in one district,
Third Suffolk – Currently represented by Senator Anthony Petrucelli (D-Boston)
The biggest change for the Third Suffolk is that I had to carve out a piece of Senator Petrucelli’s native East Boston. There’s a reason for that, and I will get to it in a bit. I also removed all of Cambridge from the district, while adding Beacon Hill, the Bank Bay, and all of Charlestown.
Essex & Suffolk – Currently represented by Senator Tom McGee (D-Lynn)
Senator McGee’s district was the last to fall under my goal of majority minority, and I was able to get it there, but just barely.
By dropping Swampscott, Marblehead, Saugus, and Melrose, and adding Chelsea, part of Revere, and part of East Boston, I was able to craft a district that has a 49.8% white voting population, 35.2% Hispanic, 7.4% black, and 5% Asian. It’s not like the other districts that should give a huge advantage to a minority candidate, but it does give us a total of four State Senate districts that are majority-minority.
So that’s my proposed map. Let me know what you think.
Hey Conor —
Well, since you asked, it looks like, as you said, the Back Bay and maybe some Beacon Hill would go from the Chang-Diaz 2nd Suffolk, into a Petruccelli District. Looks also like SCD would pick up more of Roxbury/N.Dorchester, which was once in the district, and maybe lose a bit of Ward 14 (Blue Hill Ave/Morton). Jack Hart’s district does look similar.
Good job putting Allston-Brighton in one district. Without judging the changes on the Eastie/Charlestown side of the world, if you did put Eastie and Charlestown and the North End in the same district, it would parallel, to some extent, the Council district.
Another interesting set of scenarios. Thanks! PS – a “reward” for anyone who can create a JP/Brookline/Allston Brighton district! 🙂 Just kidding Senators!
There are 40 senate districts and 160 state representative districts. Why not just make each senate district coextensive with 4 representative districts? That’s sort of how they apportion the governor’s council- each council district is coextensive with five senate districts.
…though their ratio is 3:1 rather than 4:1. I think it’s at least worth considering, certainly would make some election logistics easier.
As for the main point of the districting criteria, I don’t think keeping incumbents in their districts is a high priority, and I especially don’t like considering race and ethnicity. The two districts I’m most familiar with, Donoghue’s and Finegold’s seem to also be the most contorted. Frankly, I don’t care whether the Senate consists of 40 Caucasians, 40 Asians, 40 African-Americans, or 40 Hispanics, or whatever combination thereof. I want to vote for someone who thinks like me, not necessarily someone who looks like me.
Warrent Tolman hasn’t been in the Senate since he ran for Lieutenant Governor with Harshbarger in 1998. Steve Tolman, his brother, is the Senator you’re looking for.
For some reason I can’t edit the post, but obviously I meant Steve Tolman, not Warren.
I think in many cases your districts are a bit fairer than MM, who seems to be focused mostly on making more Republican friendly districts. I would disagree with the Cambridge district, Tolman taking it over and shifting it from Watertown and Belmont makes a lot more sense.
Your majority-minority districts are looking like particularly tortured salamanders to me.
Redistricting isn’t a good way to try to get proportional representation — if you can advance a cause through cleverly-drawn districts, incumbents who are opposed to your cause will have an even easier time undoing your work with *their* cleverly-drawn districts.
If you want proportional representation, advocate reforming our election system to allow it, not manipulating the districts of the silly system we’ve got.