While Mr. Kevin Peterson’s intentions are noble and pragmatic (“Growing diversity demands dramatic redistricting reform,” Bay State Banner, May 31, 2012), I believe his thinking is off-base and borderline dangerous.
While it is true that only two out of nine city council districts are represented by a person of color, reuniting Mattapan should be of least concern. Let’s be clear: Mattapan is packed, not cracked, when it comes to talking in redistricting terms.
There are indeed areas for opportunity given the city’s demographics and map configurations that strengthen the existing districts. A majority of people of color in those districts, namely Districts 3 and 5, have yet to see a person of color elected to office.
In fact, there was a large coalition of progressive organizations actively advocating for dramatic changes to the city council districts; including a very strong map that did not split Districts 3 and 4 along Dorchester Avenue as it has been for the past 28 years.
But the city council also missed a prime opportunity after the most recent Census and failed to re-precinct the city’s ward system, which has remained unchanged for 80 years. This, and the ultimate small-time tinkering on the fringes will prove to be a disservice to all.
Lastly, the notion of five districts that consist of a majority of people of color is well-intentioned but not feasible given the demographics of Boston’s neighborhoods and the constraints of the redistricting process in terms of population variance, geographic contiguity, voting age population limitations and citizenship.