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Some Milton officials like new congressional district map; some don't

Posted by Natalie Feulner  November 9, 2011 10:00 AM

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Local officials in Milton say they have mixed feelings about the new congressional district map presented by legislative leaders on Monday that splits the town between US Representative Stephen F. Lynch, a South Boston Democrat, and US Representative Michael Capuano, a Somerville Democrat.

Capuano will pick up precincts one, three, and five, which start at Milton’s Central Station and end at Route 138 near Curry College. Lynch will retain the others.

It’s that split that Selectman Tom Hurley says he wants to do something about.

“Here’s the problem: They’ve split our community, so they’ve split our support in Washington and have split our power to a degree,” Hurley said Tuesday.

He added that he is discussing appeal options with Milton Town Clerk James Mullen and said he hopes it’s not too late to take action.

“There are major issues right now that we are dealing with on the national level," Hurley said. "We will need support."

Those issues include the state Department of Conservation and Recreation’s recent application for a $13.1 million grant to complete a bicycle trail along the Neponset River and the town’s development of parking on the East Milton deck.

However, Selectmen John Shields said support is a primary benefit to having two congressmen represent Milton.

“I’m of two minds, Shields said. “I’ve enjoyed working with Congressman Lynch and his staff; however, Congressman Capuano has seniority [in Washington], and having someone else we can go to might give us a double dose of power.”

He added that it was better to have two congressmen than to lose one or not keep Lynch.

“I’d rather come out of this with more strength, and length of service counts in Congress,” Shields said. “You hate to see the town split ... [but] in my opinion Milton is enhanced by this change.”

Town Administrator Kevin Mearn agreed, saying he hoped the dual representation would reflect that of state representatives.

“We have multiple representatives at the state level who all work closely together; I’m sure that both congressional representatives will do the same to help the town of Milton,” he said. “I don’t see any downside with this type of redistricting.”

Meanwhile, at a Special Town Meeting in Dedham Monday night, Lynch spoke briefly about the map change, saying that while he has more constituents it would be a good thing overall.

“I’m please to know that 80 percent of my district remains the same, although I’ll be going from 640,000 to 727,000 people," he said. "It will be a welcome challenge but a logistic challenge as well.”

Natalie Feulner can be reached at natalie.feulner@gmail.com.

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