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Trumbull Voter: 'Holden's Folly Redux'

"The mess predicted in the aftermath of Trumbull Republican Registrar of Voters Bill Holden decision to chop voting districts from seven to four occurred on November 6."

Trumbull Republican Registrar of Voters and Chair of last year's misbegotten Redistricting Committee Bill Holden, abetted by two unflinching loyalists, forced restructured voting districts that many (the writer among the more vocal) predicted served only partisan political ends.

Our worst fears were recognized at the polls as early as 7:00 a.m. today.

I always vote early. In past elections I could walk in, vote and walk out.  Today the parking lot at Madison Middle School was fuller than I'd ever experienced, and I had a 20 minute wait.

As we approached the school a hand made sign instructed us to get into one of two lines, based on the first letter of our street. Inside we were greeted by two ID checking lines. Both were manned by hard at work fellow citizens performing their tedious task as efficiently as possible.

The pictures show the checkers busy while half the voting "booths" were empty.  The wrong configuration. Why not more poll workers, more lines and less inconvenience?  

Holden said his restructuring would save taxpayers $8,000. That money was overspent before the August elections were over.

We have the money to get into the concert business, but not to keep voting convenient?

Sure, we're better off than many in New York City and coastal New Jersey.  But worse off than we were before Holden and his partisans dumped his unnecessary changes on the unsuspecting voters of Trumbull.

But all may not be lost. Lainie McHugh and Town Councilwoman Vickie Tesoro stood in front of the school seeking signatures for a petition to reverse Holden's decision and return the town to the seven district map that served Republicans and Democrats well for 28 years. I can only hope there were similar tables at our other three polling places.

The petition sponsors need 3,000 signatures and seek 5,000. Once the requisite numbers are reached the matter must be addressed by the Town Council. One can only hope that Republican members (or at least a few of them) will return to sanity, reverse their near party line vote and give us back seven equally populated council districts.

Stay tuned. The battle is being rejoined.

Sincerely,

Roy Fuchs

Tom Kelly November 10, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Pragmatically, Charley, there is some validity in what you are saying. Everyone has a slightly different take on this. For my part, I don't think there is much difference if you get beat 14-7 in a football game or 17-4. Both are such overwhelming majorities for the other side that I don't think it's a difference maker. However, I respect the notion that only four representatives will have a hard time doing all the committee work that is expected of the minority. But here's why I think this initiative needs to pass. First, I was with the Republicans as the Vice Chairman of the TRTC, and I know why they did this and it most certainly was to get even for the Democrats going to 7 districts in 1982 or thereabouts. There is a reason I am no longer with the Republicans, and it's because of issues like this where the motive is retribution and payback and not the best interests of the people. There was a public hearing about this new plan. 15 out of 16 people who came to the public hearing opposed it. The League of Women Voters opposed it. The Council Republicans ignored it all, and pushed it through anyway. That is not how I think town government should work. You were out there on election day at St. Joe's. Contrary to the charges made here by Mark, you can attest that no one was angry, we were all smiling and laughing, there was no arm-twisting, no one was spewing any venom or hatred. Lots and lots of people signed the petition because they wanted a change.
Kathleen McGannon November 10, 2012 at 05:16 PM
charley, You are missing the point. The Dems never tried to reduce minority representation EVEN when they had ample opportunity and the ability to do it. Why change what isn't broken? Elections have been won and lost by 1 or 2 votes in this town. That means that nearly 50% of the town voted for the person who lost. Why should they lose their voice in government??? One of the great strengths in Trumbull government is the fact that the minority party is there to represent what sometimes amounts to almost half of the electorate. It forces the majority party--whoever it might be--to work with the minority viewpoint or, at the very least, give it some consideration. And, if Tom Kelly is correct that this was done in "retribution", and I don't think he would say it if it wasn't true, it is even more distasteful.
Roy Fuchs November 10, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Tom - Let me add to your comments. First, "not one council member ran on a platform to make this change." The facts are worse. Before the FS created his Redistricting Commission his Charter Revision Committee, with the same Bill Holden as Vice Chair, proposed changes to the council's composition even more heinous than the Redistricting Committee rammed through. Only when the Charter Revision Committee's Minority Report made the council aware of the drastic changes did they wake up and kill that proposal. Then Holden and Herbst tweaked the first proposal and succeeded the second time around. The appalling dismissiveness by council Republicans of the 12 who spoke against the change - with no meaningful Republican questioning - gave us the mess we have today. No Republican campaigned for weaker minority representation or longer voting times. One can conclude they didn't think those were winners and they just did not want to call attention to their errors in judgment. Unfortunately, Democrats failed to hold them accountable during the campaign. Second, one must also conclude that "balance," "transparency" and "the right to have a real say" are not Republican values. But one need not just conclude. Holden's objective was to reduce minority representation both times. His rationale for redistricting was an "$8,000 savings," an objective only one council Republican opposed. Ignorance? Disinterest? Or follow the leader?
Roy Fuchs November 11, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Do we really need "if it insults the intelligence...?" Can we stick to the issue without the argumentum ad hominen? BTW - I hope your intelligence is not insulted when I tell you the word you wanted was "waste," not "waist."
Roy Fuchs November 11, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Charley - Please read the new Town Charter. The issue is not that the "Dems never had to worry..." The state prescribes the minimum number of representatives a minority must have - one per district. The Dems did poorly in 2011 and now have that minimum, which gives the Republicans a super majority. Mr. Holden deemed that insufficient control and sought to reduce the number of districts solely to reduce the minimum number of Democrats to one that virtually disenfranchises the minority . And that says nothing of the just under 50% of our voters who are registered as Unaffiliated, and so have no Town Council representation at all. Thus it is not out of the question that we get the following secnario: 17 R council members represent (in round numbers) 25% of Trumbull's registered voters, four Ds represent another 25%, and zero Unaffiliated council members represent 50% of our voters. Is this equity?

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