5 thoughts on “New voting map leaves District 3 with no incumbent Councilors”

  1. Although I chose to be optimistic about Town Council candidates coming forward and running for the 2023 local election, I also do share Mr. Morse’s concerns about the time commitment required to be a Council member. It is a lot, especially for people who have large family, work, and/or other commitments as well, and the meeting hours themselves can be long (too long); some Council meetings go past 10 p.m. and sometimes even 11 p.m. Also perhaps there isn’t such a correlation between number of voters in a district and number of candidates from that district who run for the Town Council. With the 2021 election, the district with the fewest number of active voters — the old District 3 — had 3 candidates running for the two District 3 seats and one of the most competitive races. The districts with the greatest numbers of active voters — District 2 and District 5 — had uncontested races for those districts’ seats on the Council. On this latter point, it is worth noting that the current three at-large Council members each live in District 2 or 5, so they do not have fewer Council members overall.


  2. One correction to my earlier comment. Local elections were held in Nov 2021, not Nov 2020. And per the charter, as I wrote, there were no primaries held in Sept 2021 before the Nov 2021 election. Thanks.


  3. When I saw the first map of the new district lines, I immediately wondered about the likelihood of there being candidates from the proposed District 3, where I live. That feeling accompanied my disappointment at losing the representation of the two fine current Council members from District 5, my prior district. Although I have disagreed with Ms. Bahl-Milne on a couple of matters, I think she has done her job well. Given the currently outsized personal time commitment required of Town Council members, far beyond what we were told it would be at the beginning, I think it is very possible to draw specific districts in town from which no one will run for the Council. The paucity of candidates in the last election across the Town supports that notion. I don’t share Tracy Zafian’s optimism about District 3 in this regard, and I hope that I am wrong. Four candidates from there next time would be great, but I would bet against it. Since I suspect that the Council is not done “building the plane while flying the plane”, I do think that its current membership needs to address just what is reasonable for the time expected to serve on the Council, and what can be done to reach that goal.


  4. A few comments:
    * This piece notes that the new districts will be in effect for the November 2023 local elections, and possibly earlier if primaries are needed. My understanding is that under Amherst’s Home Rule Charter, local primary elections were only to be held for the first filling of local elected offices after the passage of the charter, and not in subsequent local election years. Ergo, there was a primary held in Sept 2018 for the November 2018 local elections, but there was no primary held in Sept 2020 for the Nov 2020 local elections, and there will be no primaries for future local elections either even with a large slate of candidates unless the charter is changed.
    * This piece discusses the voter turnout on a percentage basis for District 3 (the old District 3), but it’s also worth noting how the number of voters for District 3 compared to other districts. With 5 districts, we would hope (at least I hope) that the voters would be distributed somewhat evenly across them, with close to 20% each. However, with the old District 3, as of Sept 2021, there were only 733 active voters in the district, which was 7% of the total active voters for Amherst. With the new District 3, as of Sept 2021, there are 2,117 active voters, equal to 21% of the total active voters. (Active voters are defined as voters with verified current addresses, such as those who have returned their annual town census or who verified their address when they voted recently; inactive voters include people who have not verified their current addresses — some voters marked as inactive on the voter rolls (for example, college and university students who have graduated) no longer live in Amherst.
    * With the greater number of voters in District 3 (the new District 3), I’m optimistic that there will be a good slate of Council candidates running for District 3 in 2023. On the previous Council (2019-2021), there were 2 Council members (Darcy DuMont and George Ryan) who live within the new District 3 boundaries.
    * Many of the main precinct boundary changes with the redistricting reflect a few main population shifts in Amherst and the requirements for each precinct’s population to be within 5% of the average. The biggest increases in Amherst’s population from 2010 to 2020 were on the UMass campus due to the construction of the Commonwealth College dorms. The biggest decreases in Amherst’s population occurred in south Amherst (Precinct 8) with a reduction in the number of students at Hampshire College. That latter change lead to that precinct (now numbered 5B), which was already the largest precinct geographically before the redistricting to becoming even larger on the map.


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