May 11, 2023 - Politics

Boston City Council map headaches return

Illustration of Boston City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Boston City Council has to revisit the contentious debate it had last year over its own political boundaries.

Catch up quick: City Hall was thrown a curveball by a federal court Monday when a judge rejected the map passed by councilors last year that was supposed to be enacted for this year’s elections.

Flashback: The Council approved the district map last fall in a 9-4 vote that split the panel between progressives and more moderate members.

  • During negotiations, lawmakers focused on trying to enhance the ability of Boston's communities of color to elect councilors of their choice.
  • That emphasis on race was the majority of the Council's attempt to avoid packing certain types of voters into districts. The strategy crossed federal guidelines, though the judge said the councilors acted in good faith.

Between the lines: The Council was barely on speaking terms as they debated the map the first time around.

  • A second go at it might be smoother, given the short timeline before the election and the judge's rejection of the focus on race.

What's next: Mayor Wu's office said in a statement that the city wants to extend timelines for City Council nomination papers.

  • That would let the Council draw up a new map in time for candidates to know the exact boundaries of the districts they're running in.

Flash way back: A similar event in 1983 saw the state Legislature delay the entire Council election by two weeks, the Dorchester Reporter wrote this week.


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