Lynn Chamber of Commerce Leads Effort to Keep City in Sixth Congressional District

June 7, 2011
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Ralph Sevinor (right), chairman of the Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors, and Brandon Freedman hold up one of the posters promoting the state congressional redistricting meeting that will be held on June 20 at Lynn City Hall

Massachusetts will lose one of its ten congressional seats in 2013 and Lynn business leaders don’t want to see the city’s current home, the Sixth District, incorporated into another district or eliminated entirely.

The Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce (LACC) is leading a major effort to inform residents about the importance of the redistricting issue to Lynn. The LACC is asking residents to attend a key meeting that will be held on June 20 at 6 p.m. at Lynn City Hall. Massachusetts state representatives and senators will be coming to Lynn to hear from local residents as the state redistricting committee gathers information in the ongoing process to determine how the new congressional districts will be drawn.

“We need an incredible show of support that the steering committee hasn’t seen before,” said Leslie Gould, executive director of the LACC. “We need to pack City Hall so that the steering committee understands that the community realizes that losing our congressional district will mean losing influence and grant opportunities for local businesses – and for infrastructure, education, medical, and social services.”

Ralph Sevinor, chairman of the Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce (LACC) board of directors and president of Wayne Alarm of Lynn, said the LACC board has identified the redistricting of the Sixth District as “the most important issue of 2011.”

Sevinor said that previous redistricting meetings such as the one being held in Lynn have drawn poorly throughout the state, with audience size ranging from zero (as is nobody showed up to the meeting) to fifty persons. A meeting in Springfield, the third largest city in the state, drew only five attendees.

A huge turnout at the Lynn meeting would show the state redistricting committee members that the city is united against any alterations to District 6.

“Our goal is to make sure that Lynn stays in the Sixth District,” said Sevinor. “Without Lynn, the Sixth District will fall apart because Lynn has the highest population north of Boston.”

Sevinor and Gould both say that the Chamber’s involvement in the issue is not based on whether the district will be represented by a Democrat or Republican. John Tierney, a Democrat, is the congressman for the Sixth District.

“This is not a Democrat or Republican issue,” said Sevinor. “I just want federal representation for federal dollars to come to Essex County. If Lynn goes to another district, our belief is that Lynn will be an island, a second thought.”

Sevinor said the June 20 public meeting on redistricting will be the only one held in Essex County.

“We want a big crowd of all residents from the North Shore,” said Sevinor.

The LACC, already known for its excellent marketing and active representation of its large membership on key issues, is pushing the accelerator button in terms of trying to attract a large crowd for the meeting at Lynn City Hall.

“The LACC believes that we need to have a great showing,” said Sevinor. “We’ve put together brochures for the business community, senior citizen residences, and other chambers of commerce.”

Gould has participated in a public service announcement about rediistricting and the June 20 meeting. There are electronic billboards on the Lynnway publicizing the meeting, courtesy of local businessman Pat McGrath. The LACC effort is also on You Tube, Facebook, and the Web site thesixthdistrict.org.

“We’re using a lot of tools to get the word out,” said Sevinor.

Sevinor noted that Taso Nikolakopoulos, chairman of the LACC’s government affairs committee and owner of John’s Roast Beef, has been instrumental in the Chamber’s overall effort.

Bill Luster, executive director of the North Shore Alliance for Economic Development, a regional non-profit agency that gets involved in economic development issue, is working closely with the LACC on the redistricting matter.

“We think maintaining a true North Shore congressional seat is important to the economic, social, and industrial health of our region,” said Luster. “We have a fundamental belief that having a congressional seat that will be held by a person local to the North Shore is very important to protect the needs of the North Shore communities.”

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