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Fairfield Citizen

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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RTM maps another attempt at redistricting

Published 7:21 am, Tuesday, February 25, 2014
  • Members of the Representative Town Meeting listen to discussion Monday of plans to renew efforts to agree on a long-stalled plan for redistricting. Photo: Genevieve Reilly / Fairfield Citizen
    Members of the Representative Town Meeting listen to discussion Monday of plans to renew efforts to agree on a long-stalled plan for redistricting. Photo: Genevieve Reilly

 

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The Representative Town Meeting will try again to adopt a new redistricting plan, but Majority Leader Edward Bateson, R-3, warned Monday it will not be ready in time for the 2014 election.

The RTM's first attempt to draw new voting district boundaries started in 2012 and, after months of partisan deadlock, ended up before a Bridgeport Superior Court judge in 2013. The judge ruled the plan adopted on a party-line vote by the RTM's majority Republicans was illegal, and issued an injunction preventing its implementation.

The rejected GOP proposal would have reduced the number of districts from 10 to 8. The court agreed that the ordinance regulating redistricting requires the plan be issued by the RTM's Redistricting Committee. The GOP decided to present its own proposal when the committee, evenly split between members from both political parties -- also a requirement of the redistricting ordinance -- could not agree on a plan.

The new committee will include Allen Marks, D-6, and Philip Pires, D-7, and two Republicans from District 9, Pam Iacono and Christoper Tymniak.

Bateson said once a timeline for adopting a redistricting plan was estimated, officials realized "there's really no way" for any plan to be put in effect by this November's state elections. To have new districts adopted in time for November, an ordinance would need to be ready by next month, he said. "So, we're shooting for the 2015 elections," he said.

He said Town Attorney Stanton Lesser has ruled that any amendments made on the floor of the RTM to the committee's proposal would mean the plan, and the changes, would have to be referred back to the committee.

"Personally, I disagree with that," Bateson said, but added that RTM leaders have built into the process a mechanism to deal with that ruling. When the committee's proposal is brought to the RTM floor for a full debate and vote by the body, the Redistricting Committee will also convene at the same time in order to take action on an amended plan.

"It's going to be difficult," he said, " but we all need to be on the same page."