VIDEO: Rep. Pressley Testifies at State House Hearing on Redistricting the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District
BOSTON –Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) testified at a Massachusetts State House hearing regarding the redistricting of the 7th Congressional District. Rep. Pressley shared constituent stories and testified to the importance of centering racial and economic diversity in the redistricting process and keeping municipalities whole wherever possible.
A full transcript of Rep. Pressley’s remarks, as delivered, is available below and full video is available here.
Transcript: Rep. Pressley Testifies at State House Hearing on Redistricting the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District
Joint Committee on Redistricting
July 12, 2021
Thank you Chairs for hosting this virtual hearing this morning.
It is the greatest honor of my life, outside of being Cora's mom, to join you at this hearing today in the role as Congresswoman representing the Massachusetts 7th congressional district, which includes: Boston, Cambridge, Sommerville, Chelsea, Everett, Randolph, and Milton.
Again, this has been the honor of my life to serve the residents of the 7th as their representative in congress. And I want to thank everyone who calls this district home, for their trust and for their partnership. I also want to thank the committee and all the advocates who worked together to draw this district a decade ago, with racial equity and the power of representative, responsive government in mind.
The Massachusetts 7th is not a monolith, our district is a testament to the daily contributions and brilliance of families from every walk of life. Our shared story is the story of the electrician in Chelsea, the single dad in Cambridge, the artist in Eastie, the matriarch with eight great grandchildren in Milton, the student activist in Everett, and the entrepreneur in Roxbury.
Our district has weathered an incredibly challenging few years and was deeply impacted by the pandemic. The strength of community has been on full display and the demands to rebuild a more just and equitable 7th and Commonwealth couldn’t be clearer. I take on this task clear eyed, motivated, and humbled by the power of the people.
Now, I understand the Committee has difficult decisions to make about new boundaries that will shape our representative democracy in the Commonwealth for the next ten years.
But I am confident that using the same principles top of mind when these boundaries were drawn 10 year ago - centering the racial and economic diversity of the Massachusetts 7th as its strength and keeping municipalities whole when possible will guide these difficult conversations and even more difficult decisions.
So if you will indulge me, I want to just speak to a few examples of how the current boundaries of the Massachusetts 7th have influenced what my team and I have worked on in our first three years in Congress and why that matters for the new Congressional maps.
As I have said before, the Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District is incredibly diverse and vibrant, but also one of the most unequal in the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for every community--but by almost every metric, the hardest hit communities per capita in the Commonwealth are concentrated in the Massachusetts 7th—Chelsea, Everett, and Randolph.
This is not random, it's not a coincidence. And it is certainly not surprising.
It is the direct result of disinvestment and generations old failed policy decisions.
But if those policy choices created this disproportionate burden on communities of color and low-income people, then we need to be as intentional in the proactive equity centered policies which we advance.
And that is the incredible strength of this district.
Over the last 4 years my team and I have traveled throughout the district, cultivating relationships with municipal and community leaders, and hearing their shared challenges and their victories.
And, as we anticipated, COVID-19 challenges were not the only issues that transcend municipal borders.
Environmental justice, transportation access, wealth creation and retention, affordable housing, educational opportunities.
I won't enumerate every issue, but I do want to put a finer point on the shared environmental challenges across the district, and why it is critical to keep as much of the 7th together as possible.
Over the last three years, I have heard the impact of environmental hazards on every community in the 7th.
In Somerville, I am partnering with elected and community leaders to mitigate the impact of McGrath Highway on the surrounding communities.
That highway continues to pose a threat to the wellbeing of cyclists and pedestrians everyday—but just like Chinatown, Chelsea, Dorchester, and countless communities saddled by gaps in critical regional infrastructure—they also struggle with the fine particulate pollution that the highway poses.
And that lived experience matches the heat map of asthma rates across the Commonwealth that light up bright red around the entire Massachusetts 7th.
The fight for air quality monitors in Chelsea—which we were successful in securing with partnership from Senator Markey’s office—are critical for the regional public health of Chelsea, East Boston, Everett, and Somerville.
Our destinies truly are tied—and that sentiment bears out throughout the Massachusetts’ 7th.
I am proud to be a member of the Community Health Center Caucus in Congress because I believe in their transformative power.
The Massachusetts 7th is home to one of the highest concentrations of Community Health Centers in the nation—I proudly boast 15 which call the 7th their home. And 1 in 3 of my constituents receive their care from one of these health centers. I am humbled to serve this District, alongside the CHC's, which has forced me to learn the intricate challenges CHC’s face and the immense benefit they bring to communities.
This is as much about our ability to resource Community Health Centers in a crisis as it is about our ability to advance access and healthcare justice through sustained funding for convenient, on demand, culturally responsive care.
It is critical that the district continue to represent these institutions and carry their concerns in the halls of Congress every day.
I cannot imagine doing this work without the partnership and leadership the constituents of the Massachusetts 7th have shown since I joined this delegation.
I am so grateful to call this district home and look forward to continuing the important work of eradicating cycles of poverty across this nation and particularly here in these seven municipalities.
If my testimony today makes your difficult job even harder, respectfully, I am glad.
I respect the enormous task you are taking on and today, as in every setting, my first priority is to advocate for every single person I represent.
I know that every constituent, every municipality in this district has made me a more effective advocate in Congress and I would hate to lose the privilege of representing any of them.
My goal is that the constituents I have proudly served, and every family that calls the Commonwealth home, feels heard and seen by their government. That our map is drawn with the goal of responsive and accountable government in mind and that we do everything in our power to increase, and not to dilute, the power of the people.
I'm grateful your partnership and leadership as we chart the path forward for the Commonwealth.
I am looking forward to public testimony, and as always I stand ready, as is my team, to help the committee in any way I can.
Thank you for the opportunity to share, Mr. Chair, I yield back.
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