Recently, a federal court rejected the redistricting plan that was submitted by the Massachusetts House of Representatives claiming that minorities were misrepresented. The court wants the legislature to redraw 17 voting districts to better represent minorities in those districts.
Duxbury’s two representatives, Democrat Tom O’Brien from Kingston and Republican Daniel Webster from Hanson, said they will bring up Duxbury’s desire for unification during the redistricting sessions. They will also try to reunite Halifax, which is also split into two voting districts.
Under redistricting three years ago, two of Duxbury’s voting precincts were lost to a separate district and different state representative. Previously, all of Duxbury was in the 6th Plymouth District. Redistricting moved Duxbury’s precincts 1 and 6 into the 12th Plymouth District, which is represented by O’Brien. Precincts 2, 3, 4, and 5 are remain in the 6th Plymouth District and are represented by Webster.
Selectmen have sent two letters to the legislature about redistricting. The first in October was to support Halifax selectmen in their goal to unite their town. The second was sent last week to Representative Thomas Petrolati, chairman of the redistricting committee, requesting that all six of Duxbury’s precincts be represented by a single state representative. Also, at the annual town meeting this Saturday, Article 42 will ask town meeting to approve a non-binding resolution affirming the town’s desire to reunite its voting precincts.
"It’s an objective we want to accomplish," O’Brien told selectmen Monday night. "The sentiments of both communities are the same and we’ll put up the good fight."
However, both O’Brien and Webster cautioned selectmen not to be too optimistic.
"It’s difficult to predict where this is going to go," said O’Brien. "If they focus only on the 17 districts then it will be an uphill battle. A lot will hinge on whether they’ll confine it to the 17 districts or take a broader-based approach."
Webster agreed: "It makes all the sense in the world" to unify Halifax and Duxbury, he said. However, he thought the House would be concerned about its image on this issue.
"The House has to be careful how they’ll proceed. They’ll be under scrutiny by the news media," said Webster.
In Duxbury selectmen’s letter to Petrolati, they request the voting districts be amended by returning Duxbury’s precinct 1 and 6 to Webster’s district and by placing Halifax’s precinct 2 into O’Brien’s district, thus making that town whole again. The revised population counts would be almost identical to what they are currently.
O’Brien represents six towns: Kingston and Plympton, two precincts in Middleborough, three precincts in Plymouth, and the two precincts in Duxbury and one in Halifax. Webster represents Pembroke, Hanson, one precinct in Halifax and four precincts in Duxbury.
Halifax selectmen’s main objection to their split representation is that one of Halifax’s precincts is left out of the district of the Silver Lake Regional School, which includes Kingston and Plympton and Halifax. They want the legislative districts to be rearranged so Halifax is entirely in the same district as the other towns in Silver Lake.
Selectmen asked for help from O’Brien and Webster in setting up a meeting with Petrolati, which would include Halifax selectmen. That town has been working to be reunited for 12 years, said O’Brien.
Selectmen stressed that they are pleased with both Webster and O’Brien and have no problems with them or their representation in the House, but that they feel the town should have one representative.