Congressional Mapmaker Explains SouthCoast Approach
BOSTON — Amid debate over how New Bedford and Fall River should be represented in Congress, the House's top redistricting official said an effort to strengthen the state's only majority-minority congressional district played a major role in his panel's decision to keep the two cities in separate districts.
Redistricting Committee Co-chair Rep. Michael Moran said Tuesday that the shifting lines his team drew in the greater Boston area left the 8th Congressional District represented by Congressman Stephen Lynch with "an extra 40,000 people," creating a knock-on effect on neighboring districts.
To meet the goal of keeping each district's population close to equal, Moran said the only option was to push communities into either the 4th Congressional District, which as proposed would stretch from Brookline down to Fall River, or the 9th Congressional District, which would span much of the South Coast and Cape Cod.
"You can only give it to two people: you can give it to the 9th and you can give it to the 4th," Moran said.
"You can't give it to the 7th, because that waters down the majority-minority district. So those 40,000 people have to be dispersed either to the 4th or to the 9th. You can only give so much to the 9th because the 9th can't give any population to anybody because it's surrounded by water, so the rest of it goes to the 4th."
"When you look at the sheer geography and the numbers, and you look at the 10th-largest city in the commonwealth, which is Fall River, it became a natural place for us to look to unify a big city down in the SouthCoast region," Moran added.
Elected officials from the region and advocates have posed competing arguments to the Redistricting Committee over the fate of Fall River and New Bedford.
One contingent argues the two cities should share a congressional district because of their mutual interests, while the other is instead hopeful that Fall River will remain in Congressman Jake Auchincloss's 4th District rather than join the 9th District represented by Congressman Bill Keating.
— Chris Lisinski, State House News Service