Newtown Redistricting Catches Some by Surprise

Newtown redistricting was as a result of a domino effect in trying to redraw district lines across the state, Reapportionment Commission chairman says.

The decision to appeared to have taken many people by surprise.

First Selectman Pat Llodra said Thursday she hadn't been told the reason for the division and would have liked to have input into the decision.

"I don't quite understand the district line," she said.

Rep. Chris Lyddy (D-106) said he was still trying to piece together the redistricting that directly changes the Newtown district he represents.

"I certainly did not advocate for that to happen," he said Thursday. "I don't think we needed to do this."

Even Sen. John McKinney (R-28), who served on the bipartisan commission that unanimously approved the plan, said he was surprised by the change to Newtown.

"There's nothng I can do about it," McKinney said of the state house redistricting, adding his role on the commission was limited to redrawing the senate lines, which did not change for Newtown.

If the change receives final approval from the state secretary of state, 1,078 Newtown people will be separated from the 106th district and shifted to the 2nd district, which at the moment already comprises parts of Bethel, Danbury and Redding. The redistricting, if approved, would be in place for the 2012 General Assembly election cycle.

Rep. Larry Cafero (R-142), who served as co-chairman of the Reapportionment Commission said the group considered many factors, most importantly changes to the census data as well as a constitutional requirement to ensure that each district had roughly the same number of people – 23,670. Legislators decided early on that district totals should be allowed to deviate from the average by only 3-percent, Cafero said.

Also, because the 2010 census showed the the largest population increases occurred in the northeast section of the state, legislators decided to start redistricting in that corner of the state and make their way across the rest of Connecticut. By choosing that strategy, changes in the northeast districts caused a "domino" effect on other districts as legislators made their way across the state, redrawing the lines.

"You've got to start somewhere," Cafero said.

In addition, because the lines were drawn based on how many people lived in the area, the group could not make its decisions strictly on geography and had to factor in population.

"We tried as best as we could to keep towns as whole as possible," Cafero said. "Sometimes it was possible. Sometimes it wasn't possible."

Cafero could not explain exactly the thinking behind the changes to Newtown's district lines except that it was affected by the need to revise the lines of other nearby districts to meet the 23,670 population goal with a deviate of only 3-percent.

Other factors they took into consideration were to make sure the districts were compact and continguous, share a community of interest and be political fair, Cafero said.

"It sure as heck wasn't random," he said of the redistricting. "Is there something more optimal? Maybe."

Cafero said Newtown wasn't alone and that there were several towns in the state divided into different districts, before the change as well as afterward.

"It's a give and take," he said.

Lyddy said he would have preferred Newtown stay spread across two districts rather than three but would accept the change.

"I'm trying to be positive," he said.

According to Lyddy, the following streets would move to the 2nd district:

Towns End Road

Putnam Drive

Split Rock Road

Vona Way

Oak Ridge Drive

Saddle Ridge Road

Merlins Lane

Arthurs Court

Abbotts Hill Road

Poverty Hollow

Greenleaf Farms

Equestrian Ridge

Hopewell Road

Farm Meadow Road

Morris Road

Webster Place

Shut Road

Jangling Plains Road

And part of Flat Swamp, Hattertown and Eden Hill roads

Correction: The redistricting was done based on the number of people living in a General Assembly district. An earlier version of this article imprecisely described the redistricting process.

Alex Tytler December 02, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Because this is a political maneuver designed for political gain in the 2012 election by the Democrat party. It has nothing to do with logic. Look at the way the lines move house by house.
Snow Bird December 02, 2011 at 03:17 PM
That's not how it works, Eric. The reapportionment committee is set up and functions in a bi-partisan fashion. What they tend to do, based on reporting elsewhere, is protect incumbents of both parties at the expense of creating more competitive districts. Of course, they'll never admit it. But its a better arrangement here than in some other states.
Swami December 02, 2011 at 03:26 PM
How about a reality check? A bipartisan commission unanimously approved it! Rep. Dan Carter (R-2) says he sees all positives when it comes to the redistricting of the 2nd District to include Newtown While several officials in Newtown expressed concerns with having the town divided up into three different state House of Representative districts, Rep. Dan Carter (R-2) said he could only see the positives with the new set-up. "I'm excited about the prospects of serving," said Carter, who if he runs and wins re-election in 2012, would come to represent Bethel, Danbury, Redding and Newtown. "It's going to be extra work, there's no question about that, but I'm kind of excited." A bipartisan commission unanimously approved a state House of Representatives redistricting plan that would shift slightly more than 1,000 voters from the 106th District in Newtown to the 2nd District, now represented by Carter.
Joe H. December 02, 2011 at 06:12 PM
Eric, did you read the article, those R's next to McKinney and Cafero means they are Republicans
Hoa Nguyen December 04, 2011 at 08:40 PM
Liam, it will have no effect on taxes or mill rate. It only affects who you can vote to represent you in the House of Representatives. Instead of voting for a 106th District candidate, those 1,000 or so Newtown residents will now have to vote for a 2nd District candidate. However, those residents will still have to pay the same mill rate as everyone else in Newtown.


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