Democratic Registrar of Voters Jane Aiello resigned, effective today. Her replacement, Laurel Anderson, was sworn in by Assistant Registrar Sandra Mangiacapra. And new Republican Assistant Registrar Barbara Wenz was already on the job.
Aiello Exits, Anderson and Wenz Enter
Ms. Aiello, the Registrar for eight years, is leaving following a tumultuous, politically driven four month redistricting effort.
Trumbull was required to redistrict to come into compliance with the One Person, One Vote law.
The town's process began in February. Redistricting Committee Chair and Republican Registrar of Voters Bill Holden started by placing his four district plan on the table. He wanted that plan, deemed its approval a fait accompli and started to leave.
The persistent Aiello and Democratic Town Councilwoman Vickie Tesoro had to force their modest alternative, one that kept the existing seven districts by simply adjusting boundaries to satisfy the law, into consideration.
Two months later the five member Committee predictably approved the Republican plan on a 3 – 2 party line vote without ever discussing or considering the other.
The preferred plan, along with the “alternative” went to the Town Council. There that body's 14 – 7 Republican majority approved their plan without meaningful debate, and without taking notice that 11 of 12 members of the public who spoke spoke against it.
By June all that remained was for the two registrars to agree on the four new polling places. Holden had unilaterally determined them and presented his list to the council.
Aiello, after nearly begging to read a statement to the council, did so. She refused to sign on, saying the entire process had been “driven by partisan politics.” She also said that she had hoped for an apolitical process and that “some sacrifices (had) to be made, but slash and burn is not the ideal choice.”
Her plaint notwithstanding, the council's majority voted once again as a bloc, now to approve the four sites.
Aiello called this “the worst time to step down,” but may well have done so out of frustration with both the radical and unnecessary changes and the style in which they were made.
She commented that her “biggest fear is that the size of the new districts, the number of voters and the lack of parking may leave some citizens unwilling to wait in the longer lines, and just leave and so become disenfranchised.”
Aiello has been replaced by Laurel Anderson, the Director of Accounting at Bridgeport's Discovery Museum. Ms. Anderson has been a Trumbull resident for 12 years and is active in the Bridgeport Area League of Women Voters.
Anderson stated that she is appreciative of the work ahead, and is “very pleased to have Jane's support as I step into my new position.”
At the same time, the Republicans hired a new Assistant Registrar – Barbara Wenz. Ms. Wenz has lived in Trumbull for 27 years and is a retired teacher of Spanish. She demurred when asked about her activities in town.
Her predecessor, Kathleen Miranti, was fired.
New Plan Effective for August 14 Primaries
The new plan will take effect for the primary elections on August 14. This is unnecessarily soon because, by statute, it need not be implemented until next year's municipal elections. The only change that must be made for this year's state and federal elections is to move about 100 homes in the southeastern corner of the town from the 123rd state assembly district to the new 122nd.
This immediate implementation yields no advantage to either party because Holden's sole objective – reducing the seven Democratic town council seats to four - comes into play only with next year's municipal elections.
And putting the Registrar's office on the frenetic schedule necessary to move 50 percent of Trumbull's 13,000 homes to new districts within a period of perhaps 60 days poses an unneeded burden on what is already the biggest effort that office has undertaken since our last redistricting 28 years ago.
Once that is done the Assistant Registrars, the people who have to make it happen, will send out cards notifying citizens where to cast their ballots – probably not before early August.
The writer is contemplating sitting at Tashua School on August 14 to count the people who didn't get the message – Tashua, a long time polling place - will not be so used in the new scheme.