The map supports a larger repositioning map

Last updated: November 27, 2021

Written by Susan Gilbert

“It’s a lifelong commitment, even if we have to make unpopular decisions.”– Jillian Harvey

Final vote expected Monday

On November 22, the select committee voted unanimously in favor of the realignment map recommended by the Arlington Realignment Task Force. The board of directors meets again on Monday, November 29 to take a final vote.

The recommended map redraws neighborhoods to accommodate future growth and provide the opportunity for increased diversity in Town Meeting.

The other repecting option was the limited change card, which only makes the changes necessary to rebalance the population.

See the map with limited changes as well as the one that was recommended.

See all the documents on the agenda relating to the constituencies >>

The retaliation working group consisted of Julie Brazile, municipal clerk; Jillian Harvey, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Adam Kurowski, director of the GIS / systems analyst (who has since quit his job in town); and Kelly Lynema, deputy director, Department of Planning and Community Development.

Massachusetts communities must re-examine their compound boundaries every 10 years based on new census data.

Recommended plan aims to make Arlington more inclusive

“The recommended card will open up opportunities for greater inclusion among residents,” Harvey said.

The repecting requirements are to rebalance the population, protect minority voting rights, and have compact and contiguous communities of interest in currently under-represented neighborhoods, Brazile explained.

When creating the recommended map, “We worked to avoid divided neighborhoods, limit the number of affected neighborhoods, increase similarities within neighborhoods, and identify neighborhoods where we can make improvements, such as the Mass. Ave corridor. . ”Brazile said.

“Equity of opportunity results aim to have ridings with fewer incumbents, more opportunities for racial minorities and more similar characteristics, such as household income, density and tenants versus owners. . As for the Finance Committee, 20 of the 21 current members could continue to serve, ”added Brazile.

Harvey said the redefinition goals used data to take into account constituency characteristics; identify communities of interest; meet Arlington’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals; and increase diversity in Town Meeting. “It is a fair representation, not only of racial makeup, but of the use of transport,” she said. “It’s a lifelong commitment, even if we have to make unpopular decisions.”

“Our values ​​are: diversity, belonging, inclusion, equity and developing empathy and making everyone seen and felt welcome. Diverse populations must be included and involved in the decision-making process. Different people need different things because of our country’s historic institutionalism of racism, ”Harvey said.

“Working for equity takes time. We try to break down the feeling of internalized oppression, where people have a strong sense of lack of belonging. People who have never had the opportunity to be heard will now have this chance to feel welcome, and that others do not make a choice for them, ”added Harvey.

Select Board supports growing diversity

Eric Helmuth, Board Member, said: “The Representation Task Force, which has advanced planning degrees, believes that over the next 10 years demographic trends will make the recommended map more favorable to those who are not currently represented. “

“These are not big changes, but rather incremental changes that could lead to greater and fairer representation in Town Meeting, whose members are generally older, and the owners. If we don’t try, nothing will change structurally that will change the status quo. The recommended map creates more neighborhoods that are less dominated by single-family homes, “added Helmuth.

John Hurd, Board Member, said: “This type of change puts us directly in line with the goal of increasing diversity, equity and inclusion. While change is difficult, it is a step in the right direction that sends a signal that we are interested in growing diversity within city administration.

Diane Mahon, board member, said: “We should try something different, and city leaders are determined to do it. We hope this can be the cornerstone if we have to start over in 10 years. ”

She added: “If you are a tenant or an ethnic minority and we create new constituencies, and the people we hope to lead are running, the city has to speak the words / the language to those who can barely afford to. live here. They trust problems and feel they are not wanted. “

Board member Len Diggins said, “Resilience comes from being more diverse and inclusive. It is important to try new things and then evaluate them. ”

City residents speak out

About a dozen Arlington residents voiced their opinions during the meeting and were almost evenly divided over which representation card they prefer. (However, all 15 emails sent by residents to the Select Board are in favor of the limited-modification plan.)

See public comments here >> and here >>

“We take feedback from the city very seriously,” said Chairman of the Board Steve DeCourcey.

Favor recommended card:

Annie LaCourt, Cité 15 meeting member: “If we are committed to a fair Arlington, we have to prepare for the discomfort, take risks and choose the recommended map because it was created by experts. ”

Paul Schlichtman, Speaker 9: “Minimal change equates to maintaining the status quo and does not advance the cause of fairness. If we need to make any changes, let’s do the right thing and choose the card preferred by the city clerk.

Lynn Bishop, Constituency 13 member: “I moved to Arlington because of how we celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion, and the recommended plan honors those goals.”

Judith Garber: “We need all of the voices represented at the Town Meeting to make changes.”

Ian Goodsell, Constituency 11 member: “The map of recommended changes makes sense. However, I am concerned about the drastic change in voting locations for the majority of the city. “

Alex Bagnall, Precinct 7 member: “Choosing the least modified card sends the message that we can talk about diversity, equity and inclusion, but that we will not take the necessary action. “

Prefer the plan with limited changes:

Elizabeth Pyle, City 8 meeting member: “I don’t think the recommended map will achieve the goals of increasing diversity in the city meeting, especially without sufficient awareness. ”

Don Seltzer: “Redrawing the lines to deliberately create open seats to elect more tenants at the town meeting is not the answer. The right question is, “How do you get more under-represented residents involved in municipal government?” “

Carl Wagner: “The recommended option, made by only four people, will cause a lot of changes for hundreds of people at Town Meeting, and kick more members. It will not bring changes to racial and other protected groups, and could like gerrymandering. ”

Lynette Culverhouse: “Nothing would thrill me more than if, by redrawing the maps, we magically had under-represented community members showing up at town meetings and other leadership positions. in the city.

Elizabeth Dray, member of Cité 8: “I applaud the goals of increasing diversity, equity and inclusion. However, this process does not feel right to me, it is hectic, constantly evolving and not transparent.

“In the beginning, the goal was to save money and increase the attendance rate at the Town Meeting. Then the goal was to increase diversity, but redesigning the enclosure lines won’t automatically make the more diverse Town Meeting. This is now where Town Meeting members should live, but neither does the data show. The city needs to focus on fair and equitable municipal elections. The new constituency map must include a strategic plan and how it will increase voter turnout in these communities. ” has provided news and opinions on Arlington, Mass., Since 2006. Publisher Bob Sprague is a former editor of the Boston Globe, Boston Herald and Arlington Advocate. Read more on

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