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A Plea for Redistricting Hearing Attendance

by Vicki Tesoro and Jane Aiello

Trumbull residents do you understand redistricting and how it will impact your vote? Please attend the Public Hearing at the Town Council meeting on Monday April 2, 2012 at 8 PM at Town Hall to learn more before the Town Council votes that evening on a radical restructuring of our Town government. If you are unable to attend please consider contacting Town Council members through the Council Clerk at councilclerk@trumbull-ct.gov.

Trumbull’s redistricting should be a very simple process of removing unnecessary split districts and balancing the populations within our districts to maintain the concept of “one person one vote”. Sadly, in the current political climate in Trumbull, even the simplest tasks become ridiculously complex.

On March 20, 2012 in a rushed process, all three Republican members of the Trumbull Redistricting Committee, Mr. Holden (R), Mrs. Monaco (R), and Mr. Scinto (R), voted to recommend to the full Town Council that the number of voting districts in Trumbull be reduced from 7 to 4. This action will create 3 large voting districts each with 5 Town Council members and 1 “Super District” with 6 Town Council members and a population approximately 20% or more larger than the other districts. This plan also reduces the number of polling locations from 7 to 4.

We, the Democratic members of this committee, voted against this plan. Our plan (Minority Plan) keeps the existing seven local districts, which have been in place since 1984. This plan maintains district balance with all districts having nearly equal population and an equal number of representatives while preserving all seven polling locations.

To better understand both plans here is some comparative information:

7 District Plan

 Maintains 7 districts within almost the same boundaries

 Equal population between all the districts with equal representation, no “Super Districts”

 Movement of approximately 4,900 people to new voting districts

 Enhances the neighborhood concept

 Same number of polling places, less driving time to polls, smaller waiting lines at the polls

 Less ballot confusion, 4 Town Council candidates on ballot from each district

 Strengthens representative-constituent relationships

 Preserves current minority representation, assures 7 Council members from the minority party

 Minimizes disruption regarding Council members and their current districts

 

4 District Plan

 Substantially larger districts

 Creation of a “Super District”

 Unequal district representation

 Movement of approximately 18,000 people to new voting districts

 Minimizes the neighborhood concept

 Fewer polling places that will result in longer driving times and longer waiting lines for voters

 More ballot confusion, 8 or 10 Town Council candidates on double sided ballot from each district

 Larger districts dilute relationship between Council member and constituent

 Diminishes minority representation, assures 4 Council members from the minority party

 Displaces current Council members from current districts

 

The Republicans maintain that their plan will save the taxpayers approximately $8,000 by reducing the polling places from 7 to 4. While we agree that we should save every dollar that we can, we maintain that those dollar savings are not guaranteed and if they did occur, the confusion, and inconvenience to our voters far outweigh a small uncorroborated savings.

So why are the Republicans under their redistricting plan changing where people vote, reducing the number of polling places, increasing the waiting times at the polling places, confusing citizens with a greater number of candidates, and moving over ½ of the population to new voting districts?

It isn’t about saving money. It isn’t about voter convenience. It isn’t about choosing well qualified candidates. It isn’t about empowering the voters. It isn’t about problems at polling places.

It’s really about minority representation. The 4 District plan presents the possibility of limiting representation in the Town Council to 4 minority members. This is nothing more than another attempt to silence dissenting voices. Trumbull, in its Town Charter, recognizes the importance of minority representation. Since the 1980’s the seven district plan has seen our Council go back and forth as to which Party holds sway but, because of the presence of a strong minority, dissenting points of view have not only been heard but have influenced the outcome of decisions to the benefit of the Citizens of Trumbull.

There is no rational reason for a radical restructuring of our Town Government. There is no outcry on the part of the public for fewer polling places with longer voting lines, longer drives to the polls, more campaign literature in their mailboxes or more candidates knocking on their doors. Republican Redistricting Committee Chair Bill Holden‘s plan to limit minority representation was rejected in 1984 when he was a member of that year’s Redistricting Committee, a similar attempt was rejected by the Republicans and Democrats during Charter revision in 2011 and it should be rejected now. It was incorrect for Trumbull then and it is incorrect now.

The Minority Seven District Plan meets all of the requirements of the Town Council, is better for our voters and preserves a system that has served our Citizens very well.

Please attend the Public Hearing at Town Hall on April 2 at 8 PM. If you are unable to attend please consider contacting Town Council members through the Council Clerk at councilclerk@trumbull-ct.gov

Jane Aiello: Trumbull Democratic Registrar of Voters

Vicki Tesoro: Member Trumbull Town Council District 3 (D)

Tom Pieragostini March 31, 2012 at 06:18 PM
You're misleading readers by implying the 4 district plan is "radical" and "new". In fact, the town was split into 4 districts for many decades until 1984, when the majority party created a 7 district plan. If the current district 7 is not a good example of a gerrymandered district, I don't know what is. The current 7 district plan and the Democratic proposal, especially district 7, will not help foster a community feeling. However, the 4 district plan will enhance community spirit by restoring voting districts that follow our ancient historic village, school district and neighborhood boundaries.
Mark E Smith March 31, 2012 at 07:26 PM
"There is no rational reason for a radical restructuring of our Town Government.".... This is about voting and not our Government. Nothing in our Government will change whether it is 4 districts or 7. Don't let this article try to make this sound as though our government and it ability to govern will change. AGAIN the Democrats fear monger with outrageous superlatives as usual. Trumbull Democrats AGAIN become Obstructionists who offer no leadership just complaints and obstructions to every offering put up by this administration or by the Republicans. Trumbull Democrats want to keep their elitist little districts as they care little about sense of community. God forbid the Democrats in Nichols have to vote with people from another section in Trumbull! The Trumbull Democrats put together 7 districts to gerrymander Trumbull to fulfill their needs and not yours. How did you think they were in control of Trumbull's government for so many decades in a row? As Tom P stated 4 Districts seem to work in the past for many many decades then changed by the Democrats. Every person who is able to vote in Trumbull will still have their one vote.
Tom Kelly March 31, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Mark, I'm surprised that the Republicans let you be the spokesperson for them on this issue. Your comments do not have foundation. When you say that the seven districts helped the Democrats to control the town for all these years, that's nonsense. The First Selectman, Town Clerk, and Treasurer are elected based on popular vote from ALL of Trumbull, not by district. So the district configuration had NO impact on anything OTHER than the Town Council. Not the Board of Finance, not the Board of Education, not PZC. The only body that is elected by district is the Town Council. The Republican proposal requires a SUPERDISTRICT bigger than the other 3, and displaces 18,000 voters from their current district. It will mean changes in voting location, and longer drives to get to the polls. And the current configuration has provided 14-7 Republican majorities for the last 2 Town Councils, so it's ridiculous to say it's been gerrymandered towards the Dems. Indeed, the R's have controlled the Town Council many times since 1984. The R's are overreaching on this one, but they can't see the forest through the trees anymore. This is what happens when a party loses touch...they begin to take things for granted. Yes, it happened to the Democrats before, and it's already happening to the Republicans. When the four district model is rammed through, we'll see if it results in a more convenient election this November. If it does not, we know who is responsible-Trumbull Republicans
Thomas Tesoro March 31, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Actually Mark's irrational post proves the point that there is no rational reason for the Republicans making this change.
Lisa Labella April 01, 2012 at 03:02 PM
And once again Mark is just wrong. Does he just make this stuff up? The 8 elections between 1997 and 2011 resulted in the Republicans holding the majority on the Council 5 times, and the Democrats 3. The GOP held the offices of Town Clerk and Town Treasurer many times under Democratic First Selecmen. The GOP also held the majority on the Board of Finance just as often as the Democrats, and would have held it more if people in their party didn't switch sides; most often between 1997 and 2011 the BOF was 3-3. And of course, until 2005, the BOE was even, 3-3, was required by Charter.
Tom Pieragostini April 01, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Why are you intentionally misleading readers into believing that the 4 district plan "will result in longer driving times"? This is certainly not the case for those living in Nichols in district 7. Under the current and proposed 7 district plan, the distance to the polls is 4.5 miles. Under the 4 district plan, the distance will be only 2.5 miles.
Thomas Tesoro April 01, 2012 at 09:14 PM
This is not just about Nichols, there are many other parts of Town impacted and whose driving timesand distances will be increased.
Tom Pieragostini April 02, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Why make such a broad inaccurate statement to the public? It's a fact, the 4 district plan will actually reduce the driving distance to polling places for thousands of voters.
Thomas Tesoro April 02, 2012 at 03:19 AM
The four district plan will dislocate 18,000 citizens from their current polling place whereas the four district plan will dislocate 4900 citizens. Those numbers speak for themselves. The four district plan creates districts of substantially unequal population and unequal number of representatives. The seven district plan has virtually equal population and equal representation. Those numbers speak for themselves.
Tom Pieragostini April 02, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Thank you for pointing out that 18,000 people must have been dislocated during the 1984 redistricting when the majority party increased from 4 to 7 districts. If we survived the redistricting back in 1984, then I'm confident we'll survive it today.
Thomas Tesoro April 02, 2012 at 04:11 PM
I don't think I pointed that out because I was not here at the time, (I have been here a mere 21 years). I do share your confidence that we will survive whatever comes but, if the Town Council takes an objective look, you most certainly will survive your drive to the polls and the lack of community you feel with people of the Frenchtown Road area. Feel free to call me a "Munchkin" again. I like Munchkins.

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