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Big Changes in the Elections Office

Laurel Anderson replaces Jane Aiello as Trumbull's Democratic Voter Registrar; Barbara Wenz replaces Kathleen Miranti as Assistant Republican Registrar

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

JR July 13, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Patch reported that Miranti was fired. You write that she resigned. Can we get a clarfication?
Aaron Leo (Editor) July 13, 2012 at 09:59 PM
My article is correct. Miranti was fired. I will fix it.
JR July 14, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Was there a reason for her dismissal?
Aaron Leo (Editor) July 14, 2012 at 12:58 PM
I've only heard that it was over redoing the voter rolls for the redistricting process.
Jim Flynn July 14, 2012 at 10:40 PM
I'd like to see an article about the educational efforts that Trumbull will employ to make sure that Election day isn't chaotic. Between the resignation/firings/illness of Trumbull's Voting Registrars and the assistant registrars combined with the reduction of voting districts from 7 to 4, it is not difficult to see how confusion will reign on Election Day.
Roy Fuchs July 16, 2012 at 07:08 PM
All the law required was moving borders to equalize populations across the existing districts. Instead, Mr. Holden presented a plan that collapses seven districts into four and requires redistricting half the town's residents. With Republican majorities on the Redistricting Committee and Town Council, approval of this radical and inequitable plan was a foregone conclusion. Its only purpose is to reduce the Democrat's minimum council membership from seven to four. He forced the plan's start to this August, though the law gives us till 2013 and affords no advantage to Republicans until next year's municipal elections. Implementation is exacerbated because Holden is - by his own admission - ignorant of technology. He showed no understanding of the value of GIS in redistricting, of the problems his office's antiquated computers create, nor even of the amount of work necessary to tell residents where to vote in four weeks. The two assistant registrars - Sandra Mangiacapra and Kathleen Miranti – did everything they could to inform the public. With Ms. Miranti's firing, Ms. Mangiacapra must now also train Barbara Wenz, the new Republican. Nevertheless, she said last week she seeks to send out voter notification cards "in early August." We may be fortunate the upcoming election is a potentially low turnout primary, as more than a few voters could be disenfranchised after giving up due to long lines or going to the wrong place.
Kathleen Miranti August 09, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Aaron, please clarify "why" I was fired. What about the voter rolls?

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