Saturday, December 10, 2011

Danbury Redistricting Analysis.

The State of Connecticut reapportionment has been completed for the State House and for the State Senate. Mandated every 10 years in conjunction with the US Census, redistricting can be a rather contentious process with Democrats and Republicans angling for a competitive edge.

Democrats want to preserve the status quo with large majorities in the State House and and the State Senate, and Republicans want to make inroads on those numbers by crafting districts that wil help their candidates be more competitive in districts now held by Democrats.

In Danbury we are currently served by the 24th State Senate District and by the 2,109,110, and 138th State House Districts. There are two districts that are solely within the borders of Danbury (109,110) and  two (2,138) that span multiple towns.

The new State Senate map leaves the 24th State Senate District largely unchanged with the communities of Danbury, New Fairfield, a slice of Bethel, and Sherman compromising the district.

However, there is a big change with the new State House map. The 109th District has lost neighborhoods around the Candlewood Lake in the far northeastern corner of the city to the 107th District which is currently represented by David Scribner, and neighborhoods around the FCI in the northern part of the city have been moved to the 108th District currently represented by Rich Smith. In exchange, the neighborhoods around Patch Street and downtown Danbury will be moved into the 109th to make up for the loss of population.

The 138th District will now have a piece of Ridgefield, and the 2nd District will now have a slice of Newtown.

So what does all this mean? Generally redistricting committees should strive to keep legislative districts in one community, spanning multiple towns can be difficult for the individual legislator. From a campaigning perspective candidates will now have to attend multiple events in each town. For example, the 2nd District will have Memorial Day events for Bethel, Redding, Danbury, and Newtown - those are can't miss events for the legislator or a candidate running for that seat. From a governing and policy perspective, a legislator might have to make policy a decision that could be beneficial to say Danbury, but not be beneficial to Bethel - that is a very difficult spot to be in for an elected official.

Having said that, having two new districts help with Danbury's legislative agenda will be a net gain for our community. Both Rich Smith and David Scribner are terrific legislators who are familiar with our city and our are excited about helping move our agenda.

Finally, there is the Congressional map. A recent proposal in the Reapportionment Committee has been to move Bridgeport into the 3rd Congressional District, and in exchange, move Danbury from the 5th Congressional District to the 4th Congressional District. Needless to say, we are not supportive of this idea.

Danbury belongs in the 5th CD - we are the economic center of Western Connecticut, and have had representation in Congress that has recognized our importance to the communities around us. By moving us into the 4th District, we will be further isolated  from the communities that we work with on a daily basis, and lumped in with the larger cities of Norwalk and Stamford. The needs of Danbury would then be eclipsed by the needs of the larger cities and Danbury would not receive the attention or the representation that we deserve in Congress.

 Of course, all this is likely moot as the congressional redistricting will most likely end up in court for the judges to sort out.

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