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Berkshires in line to lose state House seat

Proposed statehouse districts in Massachusetts following the 2020 Census
Massachusetts state government
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Proposed statehouse districts in Massachusetts following the 2020 Census

As expected, the Berkshires are in line to lose a statehouse seat according to proposed new district maps released Tuesday.

Under the draft redistricting plan following the 2020 Census, the state House seats held by John Barrett of the 1st Berkshire district and Paul Mark of the 2nd Berkshire district — both Democrats — would be combined.

That would drop the number of Berkshire County delegates on Beacon Hill from four to three. It’s believed Mark could run for the state Senate seat held by Democrat Adam Hinds, who is considering a run for lieutenant governor in 2022.

"Obviously I'm disappointed that Berkshire County is losing a seat in the House. But I guess it's just a sign of the times. Our population is down," Barrett said. "The news, I guess, is all of our delegation will be in Berkshire County, the three House seats anyhow. So that works out well. My district, I guess I've added four communities to get me up to the level I need. But they're good communities, I know them well, I represented them when I was a county commissioner many years ago. That's the good news of everything. It's as good as they could do."

Public comment on the new maps is being taken through October 18, and the maps must be finalized next month. Although Massachusetts’ population was up in the past decade, most of the growth was in the eastern part of the state. The new maps emphasized more majority-minority districts.

"When all is said and done, numbers are numbers and there's no way around them, and so I think that for the Berkshires, the representative districts are going to allow for really good representation," Mark said. "It's unfortunate, of course, although it was inevitable that as a result of the decline in population we've gone from maybe six rep districts 30, 40 years ago down to three now."

"Knowing that we've lost a Berkshire rep has an impact on all of us and we're sorry to see that happen, but we're not at all surprised. This has been something that we knew was going to happen for years," Democratic Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier of the 3rd district said. "However, with the redrawing of the districts, the three strong Berkshire reps, we are all in the Berkshires, nobody else is in the Berkshires with us, nobody is spilling over into districts in neighboring counties. I feel really good about the map."

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