The Special Joint Committee on Redistricting held a public hearing this past Tuesday on its proposed congressional district redraw. At the hearing, the conversation that dominated the day was the proposed severing of Fall River and New Bedford of their congressional ties, and community leaders and elected officials of the SouthCoast got to weigh in on the record.

I spoke with Congressman Bill Keating (MA-9) on the issue last week. His district would lose Fall River after representing them since 2013. His primary concern was that splitting the SouthCoast's two most populous cities would weaken the region's foothold in any congressional district, and it's important to keep these communities united during a time when generational investments are being made in the region with projects like offshore wind and rail.

These concerns have been echoed by fellow 9th District pols such as New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and State Senators Mark Montigny, Michael Rodrigues, and Julian Cyr, as well as members of New Bedford's Beacon Hill delegation and the New Bedford City Council.

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When I spoke with Congressman Jake Auchincloss (MA-4) this past Saturday, whose district would fully absorb the Spindle City, he was deferential to the decisions made by the redistricting committee and opinions of elected and community leaders in Fall River.

"The Special Joint Committee did more than 20 hearings to gather opinions and then made I think a series of transparent and thoughtful decisions on how to best partition the 9th Congressional District," he said.

"Then we heard from the citizens of Fall River, The mayor, the former mayor, the city council president, school committee members, business leaders, labor leaders," Auchincloss said. "That they thought it was best for Fall River to be united in one congressional district, and for it to be the largest city in its district, for it to be the flagship city for needs who would be front and center for any member of Congress."

Auchincloss was referring to statements made at the hearing as well as a letter by State Rep. Carole Fiola, cosigned by fellow State Rep. Pat Haddad, Mayor Paul Coogan, City Council President and mayoral runner-up Cliff Ponte, and many other key figures in Fall River politics.

"I think it's really critical for cities to be united in congressional districts. I think it allows Fall River to pack a punch in the 4th, and you've heard that from the elected officials within the city most importantly." Auchincloss said.

Auchincloss and I also spoke what he is working on in Congress. For example, legislation he has co-sponsored called the End Gun Violence Act, which would close the "boyfriend loophole" and prevent individuals convicted of violent crimes within the last five years from having access to a firearm.

We also spoke about the passage of the infrastructure bill and the positive impacts that President Biden's Build Back Better agenda will have on the 4th District. On the heels of Veterans Day, Rep. Auchincloss then reflected on the needs of veteran communities in the Commonwealth and the country as well as the how recent and future foreign policy decisions will impact those needs.

You can listen to the full conversation here:

Marcus Ferro is the host of The Marcus Ferro Show airing Saturdays on 1420 WBSM from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Contact him at marcusferrolaw@gmail.com. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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