– 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.
The retaliation working group consisted of Julie Brazile, municipal clerk; Jillian Harvey, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Adam Kurowski, GIS Director / Systems Analyst (who 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, like the Mass Corridor. Ave. ”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 sit, ”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. “This is a fair representation, not only of racial makeup, but of the use of transportation,” 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 sure everyone is seen and felt welcome. Diverse populations must be included and involved in the decision-making process. Different people need different things because of the historic institutionalism of racism in our country, ”Harvey said.
“Working towards 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 the 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 degrees in urban planning, 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 a larger and fairer representation at the Town Meeting, whose members are generally older and owners. If we don’t try, nothing will change structurally that will change the status quo. The recommended map creates more enclosures that are less dominated by single-family homes, ”Helmuth added.
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’s a step in the right direction that sends a signal that we are interested in increasing diversity in municipal government.
Board member Diane Mahon said, “We should try something different, and city leaders are committed to it. This may not produce any substantial changes in the next few years, but the best chance of increasing representation is to continue to make reconciliation efforts in small steps. We hope this can be the cornerstone if we have to relive this 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 have trust issues 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.)
“We take feedback from the city very seriously,” said board chairman 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, Constituency 9 member: “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 map 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, member of Cité 11: The map of recommended changes makes sense. However, I am concerned about the drastic change in voting locations for a 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 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 make any changes for racial and other protected groups, and may look like gerrymandering. ”
Lynette Culverhouse: “Nothing would thrill me more than if, in redrawing the maps, we magically had under-represented community members showing up at Town Meetings and other leadership positions. But that won’t happen without a lot of support and awareness from the city to engage diverse voices 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.
“Initially, the goal was to save money and increase the participation rate in the municipal assembly. Second, the goal was to increase diversity, but redrawing the boundaries of the precinct will not automatically make Town Meeting more diverse. Now, this is where Town Meeting members should be living, but the data doesn’t show it either. The city must focus on fair and equitable municipal elections. The new constituency map should include a strategic plan and how it will increase voter turnout in these communities. ”
This news brief, written by Susan Gilbert, Freelance Writer at YourArlington, was posted on Friday, November 26, 2021.