The group that originally proposed adding nine House districts and four Senate districts where people of color represent the majority of the population has come out against splitting Haverhill between two Senate districts.
At a public hearing of the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting, the Drawing Democracy Coalition, including a Haverhill advocate, said it believes the proposed map risks diluting the voting power of minorities in Haverhill, Brockton and Boston.
“Haverhill Latinos will become diluted in what appears to be a deliberate attempt to de-stabilize Latino representation in Haverhill proper. Haverhill should stand on its own as the growing diverse population it is,” said Graciela Trilla, secretary of the Latino Coalition of Haverhill, an ELE director/lead teacher at Hill View Montessori Charter Public School and co-head of school at Wisteria Montessori.
“Latinos finally have a strong base in numbers and presence in Haverhill with receptive political leaders, only to be split, diminished, diluted and rendered voiceless in our own municipality, as well as rendering us inconsequential in the Merrimack Valley as the ugly smaller cousin of Lawrence and Methuen. We should not be willing to accept this clearly segregatory effort by the Senate to favor incumbent Lawrence candidates more interested in stockpiling their chances with the Latino vote than lifting the Haverhill Latino voting base,” she said.
The Coalition pointed to Redistricting Committee Co-Chair Senator William Brownsberger’s heavy reliance on the use of Citizen Voting Age Population, rather than total population from the 2020 Census, to draw the districts as a key reason why the map fell short for these communities. This method leaves out large segments of the population, especially young people and immigrants, thus weakening long-term opportunities for building political power. The Coalition said it is not typically used for redistricting in other states and was not used to conduct redistricting in Massachusetts in 2011.
As WHAV previously reported, the Drawing Democracy Coalition released last month its State Senate Unity Map, which increased the number of majority-minority districts based on population from three to seven. Haverhill’s largely Hispanic neighborhoods are earmarked for the new Lawrence-based district that also includes Methuen, but decouples Lawrence from the mostly white suburb of Andover.
Beth Huang, director of the Massachusetts Voter Table and a leader in the Drawing Democracy Coalition, acknowledged the concerns of Haverhill’s Latino community, but said “the bottom line for the coalition and the biggest change overall was splitting Lawrence from Andover.”
State House News Service contributed to this report.