PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The man seeking to replace U.S. Rep. John W. Olver is calling for hearings to make sure the far western communities will be served as the state faces redistricting.
In a statement released Sunday, Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. said he had written to the chairmen of the redistricting committee requesting public hearings be conducted in Pittsfield, Westfield, Greenfield or other locations in Western and central Massachusetts.
"The people of Massachusetts deserve an opportunity to weigh in on how their districts will be drawn," the former state senator said. Nuciforo, who represented Berkshire County in the state Senate for a decade announced his intention to run against Olver in 2012. The veteran 1st Massachusetts Democrat was recently elected to his 10th term and said he intended to run again in two years.
The state is expected to lose one of its 10 U.S. representatives when official numbers are released on Tuesday by the U.S. Census. Massachusetts saw a 5.5 percent increase in population over the past decade (to about 6.5 million citizens) but may not have kept up with increases in other states. With the number of representatives in the House capped at 435, the states with greater population get greater representation. The Census Bureau will allocate the specific number of congressional districts that Massachusetts will have for the 10-year period beginning in 2012.
Beacon Hill leaders have appointed state Rep. Michael Moran, D-Brighton, and state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, to oversee a joint redistricting committee. The changes may also effect representation in the State House. Secretary of State William Galvin has called for an independent commission to avoid the lengthy court battles over the last redistricting but was rebuffed.
The 1st Massachusetts District, which covers nearly the entire western half of the state and sweeps almost to Interstate 495 in the north, could get even larger if the population has continued to drop. That could mean the addition of more urban areas in the central part of the state, such as Springfield, being thrown into the mix.
"The most populous city in the first congressional district is Pittsfield, with Westfield, Leominster, Fitchburg and other small cities close behind," said Nuciforo. "These small cities and towns have common interests, distinct from the interests of large urban areas."
The Legislature will oversee the redistricting; based on federal court rulings, said Nuciforo, the newly-drawn districts must contain approximately the same number of people, and all must be contiguous, compact, and respect communities of similar interest.
"Two districts are currently based in Western Massachusetts: one built around Springfield, and one rural district running from the New York border on the west to Fitchburg and Leominster on the east," Nuciforo said. "Many residents believe, as I do, that the preservation of two districts in Western and central Massachusetts is important for the families, businesses and communities of our region."
The drawing of new districts will have a major impact on numerous federal funding allocations, including federal funding for economic development, higher education, transportation, housing and environmental protection.
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Sounds good, we need input from the people and not let boston politicans make deals in back rooms deciding our legislative districts.