EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

May 13, 2011

Plan would move Lawrence, Haverhill from Tsongas to Tierney district

Congresswoman would give up Lawrence, Haverhill in nonpartisan plan

BOSTON — Congressman John Tierney would pick up the cities of Lawrence and Haverhill while maintaining a district focused on the North Shore under a redrawn Congressional district map being proposed by a nonpartisan group of Massachusetts voters.

Two proposed scenarios unveiled this week by Fair Districts Massachusetts would see Tierney's 6th district encompassing the two Merrimack Valley cities, which are now part of Rep. Niki Tsongas' 5th district.

Tsongas' district, which would still include Lowell, would be extended west along the New Hampshire border to include many more conservative suburbs.

Fair Districts this week presented a glimpse of what redrawn Congressional district maps could look like for the 2012 election. Its proposals could see incumbent Democrats pitted against one another, opportunities opening up for Republicans and the creation of what the group said would be the first majority-minority district in state history.

Jack E. Robinson, chairman of Fair Districts Massachusetts, and Rep. Daniel Winslow, a Norfolk Republican serving as legal counsel to the nonpartisan group, presented two versions of what a remade political map could look like based on 2010 census data that will force the Legislature to eliminate one of the state's 10 seats in Congress.

"It's not the only one, but based on our analysis, it's one that can be justified and defended," Winslow said, explaining that there could be other legal permutations of the map that achieve similar goals of creating compact districts of similar communities with one district encapsulating a majority of non-white voters.

He called the maps a "precondition to litigation" should Fair Districts Massachusetts decide to challenge the constitutionality of the final redistricting proposal that the Legislature and Gov. Deval Patrick are expected to agree on sometime later this year.

"My motivation is empowering voters and making sure the civil rights of the voters of Massachusetts are adhered to and not done simply in the halls of power," Winslow said, adding that he had "no illusion" that one of the plans would be adopted by Democrats who control the redistricting efforts.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Merrimack Valley

Eagle-Tribune News Videos
Photos of the Week