Thursday, August 9, 2012
Gateway Cities are home to nearly 2 million residents, which gives them substantial representation on Beacon Hill. However, the drawing of legislative districts is an important factor in determining how well the Gateway Cities delegation can speak for these voters with a unified voice. Legislators that represent both Gateway Cities and suburban communities may have constituencies with vastly different needs.
The 24 communities represented by the Gateway Cities caucus fall into one-third of House districts (57 of 160) and more than half (21 of 40) of the state’s Senate districts.
Among these 57 House districts that include at least some portion of a Gateway City, Gateway City residents make up a majority in 41. New boundary lines for the House have given some districts significantly more Gateway City representation, while others have lost Gateway City constituents. In the 7th Essex, for example, Lawrence residents went from a little over one-quarter of the district to nearly three-quarters. Conversely, in the 12th Bristol, the Gateway City population fell 33 percentage points to only 28 percent of the district. Overall, these changes cancel out. Redistricting has not had a significant impact on clout of Gateway Cities in their House districts.
In more than one-quarter (11) of all Senate districts, Gateway Cities represent a majority of the population. On the Senate side, the biggest change brought about by redistricting was in the Hampden district, represented by Senator Welch. Springfield and Chicopee now account for over 80 percent of the district’s population, a 20 percentage point increase from 2002. But again, redistricting hasn’t significantly altered Gateway City power dynamics in the Senate.
This fall 21 House and 10 Senate Gateway City districts are contested, about the same rate as the legislature overall. While redistricting won't have a huge affect on Gateway City constituents, the legislators that Gateway City voters choose in the upcoming election will.
- Caroline Koch