October 27, 2021 Dear Representative Kerans, As you are aware, the Massachusetts “Special Joint Committee on Redistricting” recently completed its obligation to create new House district maps for the state. Working within the framework of the Voting Rights Act and a stated objective to create new districts in the majority-minority areas of cities and towns, many borders and boundaries across the state were affected.
In the 13th Essex, the District you represent:
The towns of Danvers and Middleton were unchanged (although Middleton is in the process of adding their own precinct - the implications of which are unclear as of this writing).
Sections of Topsfield and Wenham were added.
In Peabody, Ward 5 Precinct 2 was moved from the 13th Essex District into the 12th, and Ward 5 Precinct 3 was moved from the 12th Essex District into the 13th Essex.
The last change is interesting in that the Committee took a small neighborhood in West Peabody out of the 13th and replaced it with another bordering small neighborhood in West Peabody. Both are identical in population and demographics. Since the change doesn’t address any of the initiatives of the stated objectives for the committee, it seems arbitrary and unnecessary.
A cynical observer might conclude that the change is an obvious maneuver to disqualify the Republican candidate for State Representative for the 13th Essex District in 2020 from running next year, effectively ‘gerrymandering’ the district to protect the seat currently held by a Democrat. You may recall the 2020 race for the seat was a closely contested affair, with none of the five candidates receiving a majority of the vote.
I have attempted to get an explanation of why the switch was necessary and have reached out to both Rep. Mike Moran (Chairman of the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting) and Rep. Brad Jones (former ranking member of the Committee on Election Laws). Neither have gotten back to me.
I request that you, as my state representative, answer the question:
Why was Peabody’s Ward 5 Precinct 2 moved from the 13th Essex District into the 12th, and Ward 5 Precinct 3 moved from the 12th Essex District into the 13th Essex?