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Updated precinct map passes in City Council majority vote

Boston City Hall at Congress Street on Nov. 2. After a postponed vote, a City Council meeting on Wednesday passed a redistricting map. YITONG LI/DFP STAFF

An amended redistricting map was passed in a Wednesday City Council meeting following a postponed vote that further delayed the approval process.

Ahead of the midterm elections, the updated precinct map labeled Docket 1275, sponsored by Councilors Liz Breadon and Ricardo Arroyo, was affirmatively voted 9-4 after over an hour and a half of deliberation.

“Boston’s exemption from mandatory redistricting long exacerbated the tensions in state and local redistricting,” Breadon said at the council meeting.

Arroyo said the council had heard a lot of voices from the community and the redistricting process has not been easy.

“(It) is the strongest map because of that community voice, because those community advocates have stood up and have said, ‘this is what we believe is better,” Arroyo said. “This is what we believe makes sense.’”

Arroyo said that the map presented is the best map he has seen to date and strongly urged for its passing.

“​​It’s a little bit like Jenga, you pull one piece out, the rest of it falls down,” Arroyo said. “You have to figure out where it goes, and so, it has been a process.”

The map was met with opposition from Councilor Frank Baker who said he believed that the Catholic population in District 3 was being disproportionately affected by the proposed map and called Breadon “a Protestant from Fermanagh,” Breadon’s home county in Northern Ireland.

After an abrupt recess, Breadon acknowledged her position as a Protestant and an Irish immigrant, but said she felt “attacked” when Baker implied that she was discriminating against Catholics.

“I’m standing up for the rights of our minority communities, Hispanic, Asian, Black, to have equal access to voting and to have an equal opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice,” Breadon said. “If that means annoying and upsetting Catholics, I’m very, very sorry and I don’t think that is reflective of Catholic values.”

Councilor Kenzie Bok proposed an amendment to the map that would address the concern of strengthening the north part of District 3 at the risk of weakening the southern part.

“Each time that we add a South Boston precinct to District 3, we find ourselves in a position where we’re not, I think, strengthening the opportunity for communities of color to elect candidates of their choice,” Bok said. 

Bok said she would strongly support the proposed precinct map with or without her amendment’s approval.

Arroyo disapproved the amendment, saying it would split up Mary Ellen McCormack and Anne M. Lynch public homes that would create further problems in racial demographics and in legality.

“If we’re making the argument that it makes the district more racially diverse by a full percentage point, the fact of the matter is it doesn’t change the racial voting analysis enough to justify splitting up the (Boston Housing Authority) in that way,” Arroyo said.

Bok’s amendment was not passed in a 9-3 vote.

Three more amendments were proposed that suggested moving pieces of District 2 to District 3 and vice versa, none of which passed in a majority vote.

With the map passing through City Council, it now awaits Mayor Michelle Wu’s approval or rejection.

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