Population data redistricts least-populated town

By Lauri Voter - Staff Writer
Union - posted Sat., Jan. 28, 2012
The State of Connecticut Reapportionment Commission has completed its 2011 redistricting plan. Effective with the November 2012 election, the town of Union will fall into state House Congressional District 50, after being transferred from its current state House Congressional District 52. Union's state Senate District will remain the same. Image courtesy of the State of Connecticut Reapportionment Commission. - Contributed Photo

The State of Connecticut Reapportionment Commission has completed its 2011 redistricting plan. As a result of the project - which is driven by federal census population numbers - Connecticut's least-populated town, Union, will soon find itself dropped into a new state congressional district for at least the next 10 years. However, Union's state senate district – District 35 – will remain the same.

The process is dictated by Connecticut's Constitution, and is conducted every 10 years subsequent to final federal census tallies.
Union First Selectman Albert L. “Andy” Goodhall, Jr., said that he does not recall how he first heard about the redistricting of the town of Union, but he said he knows for sure that he is not happy about it.

A redistricting map available at www.cga.ct.gov/red2011/documents/2011/house_map.pdf reflects the new alignment that will place Union in District 50 with Brooklyn, Eastford, Pomfret and Woodstock, effective with the November 2012 election. Until then, Union will remain in the 52nd district with Somers and Stafford, and will continue to be represented by state Rep. Penny Bacchiochi (R-52).

The reapportioning project also resulted in juggling Hampton out of the 50th district, which is currently represented by state Rep. Mike Alberts (R-50).

Alberts explained that the reapportioning project is conducted by a bi-partisan group of state representatives and state senators.

State Senators Donald E. Williams, Jr. (D-29), co-chair; John McKinney (R-28); Martin M. Looney (D-11); and Leonard A. Fasano (R-34); in conjunction with state Representatives Lawrence F. Cafero, Jr. (R-142), co-chair; Christopher G. Donovan (D-84); Sandy H. Nafis (D-27); and Arthur J. O'Neill (R-69), comprised Connecticut's Reapportionment Commission. This year's redistricting process required a tie-breaking vote, cast by former state Sen. Kevin Johnston, who was selected by the Reapportionment Commission on Nov. 3.

Alberts said that Connecticut's process, through the redistricting commission, uses federal census population data (not registered voter tallies) to determine trends and population changes in Connecticut's towns. State house and senatorial districts are then evaluated against this data to re-formulate groupings of adjacent towns of nearly equal proportion within a 3-percent margin, while splitting towns between more than one district is used as only a last resort.

Alberts said that while larger cities might be split between several representatives, the goal of the project is to keep smaller communities intact, which “leads to better government, if you will, in that there is only one representative for the whole town,” said Alberts. “What makes it difficult is that all the towns are on the border and there is very little that can be done in terms of making adjustments, because they are up against a hard geographical border. They have to go into a district that they are geographically adjacent to.”

Goodhall expressed concern that Union will lose its voice in the Connecticut General Assembly when it is transferred into District 50, making it one of five towns, whereas in District 52, Union is one of only three towns. In addition, Goodhall feels that the town of Union has always had close cultural ties and shares other commonalities with the neighboring town of Stafford Springs. For instance, Union, which has no post office, shares Stafford Springs' postal code and phone exchange, and sends many of its students to Stafford High School. Goodhall said he is also concerned that moving Union to a new district without its own input or consent will “alienate” and “further isolate” it.

According to Alberts, there is no redistricting appeal process available to the town of Union. “It's locked into position,” said Alberts. “For some people - Union residents - it may be a little difficult to accept at first, because orientation is primarily towards Somers and Stafford. This is how it's going to have to be in the next 10 years.”

A Woodstock resident, Alberts said that he is already somewhat familiar with Union through mutual participation in the Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (NECCOG).

Alberts said that in the coming weeks, he will formally announce his candidacy in the 2012 election. “I have already gone out and met with the Union Republican Town Committee,” he said.

Alberts said that while the state of Connecticut’s redistricting is complete, the state’s U.S. congressional districts are still in play.

Visit www.cga.ct.gov/red2011 for detailed information about Connecticut's redistricting project and the Reapportionment Commission.

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