We Support the Unity Map

Boston City Council

Several organizations sued the Boston City Council and are asking the courts to throw out the new city council districts, or the unity map, which we supported because it will create more opportunities for people of color to be fairly represented in the next 10 years. Please sign onto the petition, which we will share with the Boston City Council and at various points during the legal process.

To: Boston City Council
From: [Your Name]

Dear Redistricting Committee Chair Breadon and members of the Boston City Council,

The Drawing Democracy Coalition supports the new City Council districts that the City Council passed on November 2, 2022, and that Mayor Wu signed on November 7, 2022. Our coalition includes Boston residents, taxpayers, registered voters, public housing residents, immigrants, people who speak a language other than English, voting rights experts, and community leaders. We are a citywide multiracial and multiethnic coalition that seeks to advance the varying but often overlapping interests, struggles, and aspirations of people of color and working class residents in Boston, and our representation on the City Council.

The Drawing Democracy Coalition is opposed to the injunctive relief that the O’Shea lawsuit requests. We want the new City Council districts to be implemented without delay, in time for the 2023 municipal election. The map passed by the City Council complies with the Voting Rights Act and adheres to traditional principles of redistricting. Community residents and local leaders had adequate opportunities to weigh in on how we want our communities to be represented.

Several allegations made in the complaint are false and disingenous.

First, there were no violations of the Open Meeting Law organized or attended by the Drawing Democracy Coalition. The city’s legal counsel laid out clear arguments why public notice was not necessary for the October 10th meeting or October 18th press conference listed in the complaint about Open Meeting Law violations. Indeed, if any Open Meeting Law violation occurred in advance of the council's redistricting vote, it would have been at the Condon School meeting on October 19, 2022, attended by many plaintiffs who filed the O’Shea lawsuit.

Second, the map passed by the City Council creates more effective districts and fits the parameters set out by the Voting Rights Act and subsequent case law, based on the polarization between overall POC and overall white voters, as demonstrated in the analysis by Moon Duchin and Chanel Richardson presented to the Councilors on October 25. This is why the Drawing Democracy Coalition supports this map. The map does not seek to create “racial balance” and the plaintiffs’ purported evidence for this relies on a much smaller number of elections that are irrelevant to the analysis of effectiveness of voting districts.

Third, we believe that residents were fairly able to weigh in during this process. The plaintiff's argument misrepresents the efforts to engage public housing residents and provide language access. The Redistricting Committee Chair consistently reached out to community leaders about interpretation needs at hearings and meetings. Meetings about the redistricting process organized by several City Councilors provided interpretation, and limited English-speaking residents received interpretation and provided testimony at council hearings. Indeed, it was only the October 19th meeting organized by the plaintiffs at which the attempt to provide language interpretation was met with open hostility.

Finally, as mentioned above, our coalition is comprised of Boston residents, taxpayers, voters, parents of BPS students, and neighborhood leaders. Our communities have been the most impacted by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, and have borne the brunt of the impact of redlining, highway expansion, and disenfranchisement over many generations. This is precisely why we support the new City Council map: because it creates more effective districts for working class residents and people of color to have the opportunity to vote for candidates of our choice. The plaintiffs’ claim that the supporters of the unity map are outside actors who are not impacted by Boston redistricting is simply false and willfully dishonest.

The Plaintiffs’ complaint seeks to do something that is legally invalid: maintain the existing district boundaries without change. Population changes in Boston in the ten years between the 2010 Census and the 2020 Census mean that the districts must change. As Boston residents, voters, and taxpayers, we support the map and oppose any efforts to stop its implementation.