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Mayor Michelle Wu, City Councilor Kendra Lara release proposed redistricting maps for Boston

Mayor Wu said her map sought to keep whole neighborhoods within individual districts.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and City Councilor Kendra Lara both proposed new City Council district maps in recent days, the latest attempts to resolve the protracted battle being fought over the city’s redistricting process. 

Wu’s proposal came on Friday, four days after a federal judge barred the city from using a version of the new map that was approved last fall. Now, officials are going back to the drawing board in the hopes of finalizing a district map by May 30. 

Wu’s new map prioritizes placing whole neighborhoods within individual districts, she wrote in a letter to City Council Friday. 


“I believe that putting whole neighborhoods in single council districts encourages neighborhood organizing and civic engagement,” Wu wrote. “With that goal in mind, our proposed map unifies neighborhoods across the city. The result is a City Council district map that unifies communities of interest within districts and attempts, as best as possible, to reflect how residents experience the city in their daily lives.”

Michelle Wu Redistricting P… by Ross Cristantiello

Lara announced her proposed map on Monday. It unites South Boston into a single district, keeps the areas of Cedar Grove and Adams Village in District 3, and unifies Lower Mills, Little Saigon, and West Roxbury. Lara sought to not divide Jamaica Plain, while combining Roslindale into two districts instead of three. 

Wu’s map would move Mission Hill to District 6, out of District 8. Lara’s map would keep Mission Hill in District 8, “as it has historically,” she said in a release. 

Kendra Lara Redistricting Map 5.15.23 by Ross Cristantiello on Scribd

Redistricting must occur every 10 years, after the U.S. Census is administered. The most recent Census data showed that the population of District 2, primarily in South Boston, rose significantly, while District 3’s population, mostly in Dorchester, declined. District lines have to be redrawn so that each district has roughly the same population. Multiple precincts were also swapped between District 3 and District 4 on the map approved last fall. 


Last week, Judge Patti B. Saris ruled that a legal challenge to the map would likely be successful in proving that race played too large a role in the redistricting process. A combination of voters and civic associations were behind the challenge, which was bankrolled in part by at least two councilors: President Ed Flynn and Frank Baker

“Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success in showing that race played a predominant role in the City Council’s redrawing of Districts 3 and 4 in the enacted map, and Defendants have not demonstrated that the enacted redistricting map is narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling interest,” Saris wrote in her ruling.

The next election that the maps will be used for is the municipal contest this fall. 

“The Boston City Council is on a tight timeline to redraw our district lines in response to the ruling by Judge Saris. The ruling outlines the findings and gives the Council clear direction for making changes. Given that we are a short time away from an election, it’s in the best interest of our constituents and the democratic process that we adhere to the court order in the least disruptive way. This map does exactly that,” Lara said in a statement. 


In her letter, Wu urged City Council members to take action on a new map during their next meeting, scheduled for Wednesday. The Council’s Committee on Civil Rights met Monday afternoon, and is planning to meet again Tuesday to nail down specifics before Wednesday’s meeting. 

Wu’s map would move Ward 16 in south Dorchester into District 3, which includes two precincts currently in District 4. A few more precincts from District 4 would move into District 5. The Mass. and Cass area and the Polish Triangle near Dorchester would move into District 2, but that district would also lose a section of the South End. 

Wu’s map has already been met with pushback. During a recess from Monday’s meeting, Councilor Ricardo Arroyo reportedly called it a “nonstarter” that negatively impacts Jamaica Plain, according to the Dorchester Reporter.


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