My Turn - Concord voters shortchanged by House redistricting plan - No need to link Ward 5, Hopkinton

Jessie Osborne
Concord Monitor
December 22, 2011

The plan endorsed by the House Special Committee on Redistricting this week would deny Concord Ward 5 its own state representative for the next 10 years.

Ward 5 is entitled to have its own representative and should not be made part of a floterial district, sharing three representatives with Hopkinton. Ward 5 meets all the criteria for a state representative under the constitutional amendment approved by state voters in 2006. Under Article 11, wards which fall within the deviation from the ideal population are entitled to their own districts with one or more representative seats.

But under the new plan, Ward 5 would be severed from the city. This would separate the city's wards, which have historically been considered a single entity. We have 13 state representatives, according to our population, and each ward has been reconfigured to meet the requirements for each ward to have its own state representative. We could easily have a single state representative from each of the 10 wards, plus three at-large seats.

Hopkinton has nearly 1,500 more residents than Ward 5 and could effectively keep all the representative seats in Hopkinton, thus leaving Ward 5 voters without a member of the House living in their ward.

(Under the plan, Concord Wards 4, 6 and 7 would also be put into a floterial district and denied their own individual seats for state representative.)

Cities and towns are addressed under separate statutes in our laws, and rarely do people who live in towns have the same problems as those in cities. There are differences in their public policies and in their structures. Concord has positions on education, municipal facilities, taxation and infrastructure that would sometimes be in conflict with Hopkinton's.

If the representatives were presented with a choice to support Hopkinton's position on education funding or to support Concord's position, which would they choose? If they chose the town's, then Ward 5 citizens would not be represented on the issue.

This is not a partisan issue; it is a matter of fair representation and maintaining the historical integrity of the Concord delegation.

The Concord City Council, mayor and city manager should send a resolution to the Legislature demanding that they abide by the state Constitution in allotting each ward a state representative's seat. Please call your city councilor, and let the Legislature hear from you regarding this crucial vote.