A group led by former State Senator Steve Panagiotakos and Trinity EMS co-founder John Chemaly gathered yesterday at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center for a rally to keep the Fifth Congressional District intact in the upcoming redistricting process. With Congressional redistricting following close behind the every-ten-year Federal census, the threat to the Lowell-centric nature of the Fifth District is not a new one. Legislative redistricting committees contemplated obliterating the district ten years ago. Then, it was primarily due to widespread grass roots opposition to the plan that those doing the redistricting relented.
With the threat this year even more acute due to the Commonwealth’s loss of one of its ten Congressional seats, the “Keep the Fifth Intact” group hopes to pre-empt any such evisceration of the Fifth District. Besides Panagiotakos and Chemaly, speakers at yesterday’s rally included current Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, former Congressman and current UML Chancellor Marty Meehan, and State Senator Eileen Donoghue. The message shared repeatedly was the historic, industrial, and cultural ties create a commonality of interest among the communities that now comprise the Fifth and that commonality should be respected and kept intact.
The date everyone should circle on calendars is Monday, June 13. That is when the joint legislative committee on redistricting will come to the Fifth District to hold a public hearing. The event will he held at Lawrence High School, 70-71 North Parish Road in Lawrence. Testimony will begin at 6 pm. This is an opportunity for citizens to share with the redistricting committee the reasons why the Fifth should be kept intact. Supporters of the Fifth District are invited to gather at 4:30 pm that day outside Lawrence High School for a pre-hearing rally.