New Lines For General Assembly Create Few Conflicts
(Updated 11 p.m.) While they were unable to come to agreement on the Congressional map, Democrats and Republicans were able to find agreement drawing the lines for the General Assembly districts.
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As far as the state House districts are concerned, both Speaker of the House Chris Donovan and House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero said public input was very important in helping them decide what changes to make.
Donovan said residents of Kent argued persuasively that their community is linked closely to the upper Housatonic River Valley as opposed to the Candlewood Lake Valley. In the new map, the town of Kent will be included in the 64th House District with Sharon, Cornwall, Salsbury, Canaan, North Canaan, Norfolk, and part of Torrington.
Democratic Town Committee Chairman Leo Canty and Deputy Mayor Al Simon were happy that Windsor will have a majority district for the first time since the 1980s.
Hartford, which lost a House district, was combined with the southern part of Windsor to form the new 5th District. The new district combines part of state Rep. Marie Kirkley-Bey’s old district with part of an open seat in Windsor. Based on where Kirkley-Bey lives her house was redistricted into Rep. Matt Riter’s district pitting the two against each other if Kirkley-Bey wanted to hold onto her seat. But sources say Kirkley-Bey is looking to retire.
“The new plan brings back the rightful and just district that Windsor lost because of nasty political payback back in 1981,” Canty said. “Thirty years ago we were banished to political Siberia and effectively shut out of a process that was kind of invented in Windsor 375 years ago. Finally, we’re home, back in the game, and prepared to contribute again — rightfully so.”
The new House district also creates a majority-minority district because the district is comprised mostly of African American residents.
In southern Connecticut, state Reps. Paul Davis and Richard Roy will be pitted against each other in the next election in the 117th District, which now represents Milford, part of Orange, and part of West Haven. That’s if both decide to seek re-election. Sources say Roy will be looking to retire.
Donovan said the House map also sought to maintain communities of interest.
“I believe throughout the state this plan maintains and enhances the ability of minority communities to elect candidates of choice where that can be appropriately done under the law,” Donovan said.
He said this was done in the Hartford-Windsor District where a majority of the residents are African American.
“This majority-minority district was maintained despite the loss of population in the existing majority African American districts in the Hartford area,” Donovan said.
But at least one former lawmaker who represented Latinos in the redistricting process said he is not happy with how the Senate Districts were drawn.
Amerigo Santiago said the Latino community asked the commission to change the 1st Senatorial District. The district currently represents parts of Hartford and Wethersfield and was largely untouched by the committee. He said they wanted to see the Hartford portion combined with portions of East Hartford and West Hartford to create a community of interest.
The commission, which didn’t finalize its plan until midnight, made very few changes to the Senate Districts currently controlled by 22 Democrats. Republicans hold 14 of the 36 seats.
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Senate Minority Leader John McKinney said there were no major changes to the 36 Senate districts, but six of them were modified because they were no longer in compliance with the required population, he said. Some towns were moved from one district to another and a few had to be split between districts, he said.
“I don’t think there was any dramatic change to any one district that we’ve seen,” he said.
However, the alterations made will likely change political races in the future, he said.
The 14th District, currently represented by Democrat Gayle Slossberg, may be one of those races. The district used to contain all of Orange and Milford and some of West Haven, he said. But it was one of the six districts that needed to gain voters so part of Woodbridge was added, he said. Asked if the changes will make the district lean more conservative, McKinney said it is still a competitive district.
“I think it’s a fair district that either party can win,” he said.
If popularity in the party was a factor, it is notable that Slossberg was one of the few who broke ranks and voted against the Democratic budget proposal in May.