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State redistricting proposal would shuffle political representation

A map showing the proposed state senate districts announced Tuesday. (Photo courtesy Massachusetts Legislature)
A map showing the proposed state senate districts announced Tuesday. (Photo courtesy Massachusetts Legislature)
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BOSTON — Proposed new legislative districts in the state House and Senate could mean changes for voters in Greater Lowell, the Nashoba Valley and North Central Mass.

Districts announced by lawmakers on Tuesday appear to be shifting east to accommodate for population growth. Additionally, lawmakers have hoped to create new majority-minority districts with the redistricting proposal — an effort to have representation more representative of the state’s growing diversity.

In Lowell, state Rep. Vanna Howard would see her district shift from Chelmsford toward Tewksbury. Currently, Howard represents precinct 4 in Chelmsford and Lowell precincts 2 and 3, as well as Wards 1, 2, 3, 4, 10 and 11. In the shift, precinct 4 would move to the 14th Middlesex District currently represented by state Rep. Tami Gouveia.

The change would see Howard’s district head toward Tewksbury precinct 1. Howard would maintain Ward 1, Ward 2 precinct 3, Ward 4 precincts 2 and 3, Ward 10 precincts 1, 2, and 3, and Ward 11 precincts 1, 2 and 3.

Currently, state Sen. Jamie Eldridge represents a district comprising Ayer, Acton, Boxboro, Hudson, Littleton, Maynard, Marlboro, Shirley, Southboro, Stow and Westboro. Additionally, Eldridge represents precincts 2 and 3 in Sudbury, as well as precinct 3 in Northboro.

Eldridge’s proposed district would encompass Acton, Ayer, Boxboro, Harvard, Hudson, Littleton, Maynard, Marlboro, Southboro, Sudbury, Stow and Wayland.

“I have a particular place in my heart for Shirley because when I ran for state representative, it was the first town that I went door to door in, in the middle of winter. I went door to door and worked hard to gain the support of voters then and ever since,” Eldridge said.

State Sen. John Cronin would also see his district shift east. Under the proposal, Cronin’s district would become: Ashby, Clinton, Groton, Fitchburg, Lancaster, Leominster, Lunenburg, Shirley, Townsend and Westford.

As it stands, Cronin represents: Berlin, Bolton, Gardner, Fitchburg, Lancaster, Lunenburg, Sterling and Townsend. He also represents precincts 1 and 2 in the town of Clinton.

“It’s difficult to lose cities and towns where you’ve worked hard, built relationships and advocated for in the Senate. But the reality is districts need to change to reflect the population shifts across the Commonwealth,” Cronin said. “Ultimately, the process was inclusive, transparent and fair.”

For state Sen. Ed Kennedy, his district would remain largely unchanged. However, Kennedy would lose the communities of Groton and Westford. Kennedy’s proposed district would consist of: Dracut, Dunstable, Lowell, Pepperell and Tyngsboro.

The changes will extend to the House as well.

State Rep. Sheila Harrington currently represents the 1st Middlesex District. As constituted, the district is: Ayer precinct 1 Ashby; Dunstable, Groton, Pepperell and Townsend.

Under the proposed new 1st Middlesex District, Groton would be split into two separate communities. The proposed district would consist of: Ashby, Dunstable, Pepperell, Townsend, and Groton precincts 2 and 3.

“Well, it will certainly be different for me,” Harrington said. “Most of all, it will be really hard to give up Ayer and Devens. I really enjoy working with the people I’ve come to know in those communities. I also treasure the friendships I have made in Ayer and Devens. I will miss the day to day interactions with them and I will miss partaking in the many events and projects that happen in those communities. However, I look forward to working with the people of Lunenburg and becoming involved in the interests of their community as well.”

Groton Precinct 1 will move to the 37th Middlesex District currently represented by state Rep. Dan Sena. Currently, Sena represents: Acton precincts 3, 4 and 5, Ayer precinct 2, Boxboro, Harvard, Shirley, and Lunenburg precincts A, C and D.

With the proposed changes, the 37th Middlesex District would encompass: Acton precincts 3, 4, and 5, all of Ayer, Boxboro, Harvard, Shirley and Groton precinct 1.

“I’m sad to lose Lunenburg but I’ve gained the whole town of Ayer, Shirley and part of Groton,” Sena said. “I wanted to keep my district as close to what I had before and I’m lucky that my district didn’t change that much. It was found here and there. And I’ll continue to advocate for my district and overall I was pleased with the changes.”

Changes in the Senate will also impact voters in Tewksbury and Wilmington as they become part of the same district with Andover, North Andover, Amesbury and part of Methuen. Currently, state Sen. Barry Finegold represents Lawrence, Andover, Dracut and Tewksbury.

Chelmsford, Carlisle, Concord, Bedford, Lincoln, Weston and Waltham would also comprise a new Senate district. Currently, state Sen. Michael Barrett represents Bedford, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Lexington precincts 3, 8 and 9, Lincoln, Sudbury precincts 1, 4 and 5, as well as Weston.

Voters in Billerica are largely unaffected by the proposed changes as Billerica will remain its own state House district. State Sen. Cindy Friedman’s district of Billerica, Burlington, Lexington precincts 1, 2, 4, and 7, Woburn and Arlington would also remain unchanged.

State Rep. Michael Kushmerek in the 3rd Worcester District would also maintain his district of Fitchburg and Lunenburg precinct B.