Councillors vote 10-2 on new redistricting map, sending it to mayor's desk

10-2 map

Councillors approved a new redistricting map at their May 24 meeting. (Screenshot)

In a 10-2 vote, councillors on Wednesday sent to Mayor Wu’s desk a map that redraws the boundaries of the nine district seats.

The vote ends weeks of turmoil for the 12-member body, which was tasked by a federal judge to take another shot at drawing a new map.

Patti Saris, the judge, ruled that civic groups and some Dorchester residents, upset that the precincts around Florian Hall were shifted from District 3 to District 4, had a likelihood of a success in a lawsuit that claimed councilllors wrongly used race as a predominant factor in their deliberations. The precincts, located in Ward 16, are home to white conservative super-voters.

"We plan on reviewing this new map shortly and are thankful for the Council’s intensive work to reach consensus on a tight timeline, especially the leadership of committee chair Councilor Ruthzee Louijeune," a Wu administration spokesperson said in a statement.


The two “no” votes on the map were District 6 Councillor Kendra Lara (Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury) and At-Large Councillor Julia Mejia. Several voting rights groups, which are seeking to intervene in the federal redistricting lawsuit after the judge’s order, launched a last-minute push for Lara’s map.

Councillors faced a May 30 deadline, with Wu warning them that the September and November elections would have to delayed if they couldn't come up with a map before the end of the month.

The new map passed by the Council and shepherded by At-Large Councillor Ruthzee Louijeune keeps Ward 16 entirely within District 3. The Dorchester-based district then heads north, uniting the “Little Saigon” area in Fields Corner and picking up precincts all the way to the Mass. Turnpike, since South Boston-based District 2, represented by Ed Flynn, needed to shed population while District 3 had to gain it.

Lower Mills would be split between Districts 3 and 4, with Ward 17-Precinct 13 staying in District 3, something outgoing Councillor Frank Baker pressed for.

District 4, represented by Brian Worrell, would pick up Ward 14-Precinct 5 (Mattapan), as well as Ward 15 Precinct 1, which has the intersection of Quincy Street and Columbia Road.

Ward 14-Precinct 14 (Mattapan) stays in District 5, as Ricardo Arroyo (Hyde Park and Mattapan) had pressed for. But he was unsuccessful in jettisoning Ward 20 Precinct 8 (Roslindale), which also stays in District 5.

"We fought hard and were able to preserve 14-14 within District 5," Mejia and Lara said in a joint statement. "This is a win for Mattapan, as a community of interest and preserves it as an opportunity district. Although we still have a ways to go to enfranchise communities of interest all across the city, we believe that our dissenting votes send a clear message that there are still people on the Boston City Council that are willing to stand up to power."

Louijeune, who grew up in Hyde Park and Mattapan and has worked on other redistricting cases as an attorney, took over the map-making process after District 1 Councillor Gabriela Colleta (East Boston) and Worrell pitched her as the person for the job.

“There’s no way to separate interests here,” Louijeune said on Wednesday after the vote. “The best way forward is via an independent redistricting commission. I will say that over and over and over.”

She noted that as an at-large councillor, the district lines matter more to her colleagues. “This work is hard,” Louijeune said. “We just did something that was incredibly hard.”

Subscribe to the Dorchester Reporter