MEXICO – Selectmen unanimously voted Tuesday evening to rescind delivery of a letter to the state Senate redistricting committee and replace it with a letter of support for Jay to switch to a Senate district with other Franklin County towns.

The earlier letter voiced their support for the town of Jay to remain in Senate District 14, which includes Oxford County towns.

The board decided to rescind their original letter after hearing from Jay Town Manager Ruth Cushman, who attended Tuesday evening’s meeting to discuss her thoughts on the redistricting.

“Ten years ago, we were part of the Franklin County Senate District,” she said, “and at that time, one of our selectmen was also in the House of Representatives, and he felt that it would be a good match for us to be a part of Senate District 14 instead.”

Cushman said the town of Jay currently finds themselves “on the outskirts of the things that are going on in Franklin County, which is where Jay actually is.”

“The selectmen asked me, contrary to rumors that have gone around me, to start the process to see if we could become part of the district that housed most of Franklin County,” Cushman said. “I typed a letter with their desires in it, they signed it and I sent it in.”

Upon sending the letter, Cushman said she heard of a “campaign going on to keep us in Senate District 14.”

“Now, we find ourselves in a situation where some of the towns over here have been approached to keep us in this Senate District, when in fact, we have an awful lot more in common with the towns in Franklin County,” Cushman said. “We’d like to go back home.”

Selectman Byron Ouellette asked Cushman if it was up to the town of Jay or the redistricting committee to decide whether Jay switches Senate districts.

“It’s up to the redistricting committee, but they take into account all letters and correspondence they receive,” Cushman said.

“Well, I think that, as a town, you should be able to have control over where you go,” Ouellette replied.

Cushman laughed and said, “Well, you know what? We think that too!”

Jim McHugh of the Oxford County Democratic Office in Mexico was also present at Tuesday evening’s meeting. During the selectmen’s meeting on March 12, McHugh initiated the request for the board to send a letter to the redistricting committee to have Jay remain in Senate District 14. During Tuesday’s meeting, McHugh asked Cushman to reconsider Jay’s decision to switch over to a Franklin County district.

“I still feel that we have more in common with you than Franklin County,” McHugh said. “Between the gas line, the power plants and the paper mills. I feel that we’ll be facing a lot of common problems in the near future.”

Cushman replied, “We’d like to have our representation closer to home with the people that we feel we have more in common with.”

Selectman Peter Merrill told the rest of the board, “I think it would be proper to grant their wish, and let them join the district they feel at home in.” He made a motion that the board rescind their original letter of support to the redistricting committee.

Selectman George Byam asked Cushman whether or not the town of Jay needed a letter of support for them to switch over to a Franklin County Senate district.

“Well, I didn’t request it, but I’d love to have a letter of support,” Cushman replied.

The board agreed to draft a letter.

Jay is the only Franklin County town in Senate District 14. The other towns are in Oxford County and are: Andover, Bethel, Buckfield, Byron, Canton, Dixfield, Gilead, Greenwood, Hanover, Hartford, Hebron, Lincoln Plantation, Lovell, Magalloway Plantation, Mexico, Milton Township, Newry, Bowmantown Township, Oxbow Township, Parmachenee Township, Lynchtown Township, Adamstown Township, Richardsontown Township, Upper Cupsuptic Township, Lower Cupsuptic Township, Grafton Township, Riley Township, Township C, Andover North Surplus, Andover West Surplus, C Surplus, Peru, Roxbury, Rumford, Albany Township, Mason Township, Batchelders Grant, Stoneham, Stow, Sumner, Sweden, Upton, Waterford, West Paris and Woodstock.

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