Democrat's lawsuit challenges GOP-approved redistricting plan
Published 1:59 pm, Thursday, June 20, 2013
A Democrat who once served as the Representative Town Meeting moderator is seeking a temporary court injunction stopping the local redistricting plan adopted last month by the legislative body.
The redrawn map, which cuts the number of local voting districts from 10 to 8, was presented by Republican members of the RTM, and adopted along party lines. No plan was put forward from the RTM Redistricting Committee, a panel with three Republicans and three Democrats that had been deadlocked on recommending a new redistricting plan for more than a year. The ordinance that was adopted by the full RTM was submitted by the three GOP members of the Redistricting Committee, but was never voted on by that group.
Town Attorney Stanton Lesser, however, contended the RTM acted illegally in approving the redistricting ordinance since it was not recommended by the committee.
Local political parties' committees, meanwhile, are scheduled to hold caucuses in July to nominate candidates for the November local election.
According to the injunction request, the RTM's vote not only violated the charter, but the ordinance adopted does not include all voters; fails to provide for voting districts in only one state General Assembly district when possible; was not based on population data from the most recent census, and the deviation in population among the new voting districts exceeds 10 percent.
In addition, it states the notice of adoption by the RTM was not published within one week, as required. Browne confirmed the legal notice was not published, but declined further comment.
Lesser said he would file an appearance for the town in the court action, but a different lawyer will be found to represent the town. He said he could not, "in good faith," defend the ordinance. At the RTM meeting, Lesser warned the body that it was violating the charter.
Slane's injunction request also claims the adopted ordinance is "vague, unclear and ambiguous" because its written description of boundary lines is inconsistent with those depicted on its map.
"I am very disappointed that two prominent Democrats have teamed up to file a lawsuit against the town at the expense of the taxpayer," said James Millington, chairman of the Republican Town Committee. "As for the ordinance, some minor scribing errors in the ordinance and the map have been fixed by the registrar and town engineer, and are on file with the Secretary of the State."
Millington expressed confidence the new redistricting plan will be upheld. "On the Republican side of the aisle, we continue to aggressively recruit candidates under this eight-district map," he said.
Democrats had wanted to maintain the 10-district model, but were willing to reduce the members per district from five to four.
Lesser advised the committee that it could send two proposals to the full RTM, so long as both were endorsed by a majority of the committee, but that did not happen.
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