Sen. McGee Out of Melrose in Redistricting Proposal
Sen. Katherine Clark would represent Melrose Wards 6 and 7 in the state Senate according to the maps released by the state committee tasked with redrawing district lines after last year's census.
Editor's note: This article updated on Wednesday at 9:20 a.m. with comments from Sen. Tom McGee.
Residents in Wards 6 and 7 would no longer be represented in the state Senate by Sen. Tom McGee, D-Lynn, according to proposed redistricting maps released on Tuesday afternoon, but instead by Sen. Katherine Clark, D-Melrose, who currently represents the rest of Melrose.
Clark's Middlesex and Essex District consists of Melrose Wards 1-5 and all of Malden, Wakefield, Reading, Stoneham and Lynnfield.
The proposal from the state Legislature's special joint committee, tasked with redrawing district lines after last year's census, would move Melrose Wards 6 and 7 and one half of Winchester—currently represented by Sen. Patricia Jehlen, D-Somerville—into Clark's district, which would be renamed "Fifth Middlesex."
McGee told Melrose Patch on Wednesday morning that he has "pretty mixed emotions" about the district changes.
"I have really enjoyed the going on 10 years I’ve been able to represent Melrose," he said. "It's a great community and it's just been a pleasure knowing the people and the city, and having the honor of representing Melrose."
On the other hand, McGee said, the goal of the redistricting process is "always to bring communities together," and in his district, Saugus would be reunited under one state senator, much like Melrose will be reunited, in creating what McGee called cohesive and sensible districts. He also noted that his district would include six whole communities in Essex county.
"If you look at it dispassionately, the plan makes a lot of sense, but in terms from the heart, having been part of Melrose for so many years and working on issues important to the city, it's very bittersweet to me," he said. "I will continue to be an advocate for the city of Melrose, the relationships I’ve built and continue to be a voice for those things that are important to the citizens of Melrose."
In a statement emailed to Melrose Patch, Clark said, “I am delighted to have the City of Melrose reunited into one State Senate district. Sen. Tom McGee has been an outstanding senator and partner at the State House for Melrose. I know his advocacy on behalf of Melrose and his many friendships across the city will continue irrespective of district lines.”
Melrose Wards 6 and 7 previously had the same state senator as the rest of the city until redistricting in 2001.
Rep Paul Brodeur, D-Melrose, would continue to represent all of Melrose in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Other changes for Clark's, Brodeur's districts
Clark's district would also lose Lynnfield, which is in Essex county, to McGee's Third Essex district, which includes Lynn, Swampscott and Marblehead—all towns that McGee currently represents. McGee also represents Saugus, Precincts 1, 3, 4 and 5; under the proposed redistricting, he would pick up all of Saugus from Sen. Sal DiDomenico, D-Everett.
Brodeur also currently represents Wakefield Precincts 3-6. Brodeur's House district, the 32nd Middlesex, would lose Wakefield Precinct 3 to the 9th Essex District, currently represented by Rep. Donald Wong, R-Saugus, and which includes the rest of Wakefield.
On the south side of the district, Brodeur would then pick up Malden Ward 5 Precinct 2, which is currently represented by Rep. Chris Fallon, D-Malden. Precinct 1 in that ward would remain in Fallon's district.
Two more weeks for additional comments
In a letter posted on the redistricting committee's website, the committee's chairmen Sen. Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, and Rep. Michael Moran, D-Brighton, said that since March of this year, the committee has conducted 13 public hearings about the redistricting process, with 31 hours of testimony from over 400 groups and individuals, and 120 comments from Massachusetts residents through the committee's website.
"We now ask for your opinion one last time," Rosenberg and Moran wrote. "Over the next fourteen days we are asking for your comments on the draft maps before the Committee makes a recommendation to the General Court. The public comment period is the first time this has been done in Massachusetts and is an important component in what many have described as the most open, inclusive, and transparent redistricting process in the history of the state."