Back to the drawing board: RTM sets up new redistricting panel

The Representative Town Meeting will take another stab at trying to draw a new map for the town's local voting districts.

The RTM voted unanimously Monday to appoint a new Redistricting Committee. There was no discussion on the motion, and no members have been appointed yet.

A previous committee, made up of three Republicans and three Democrats, spent over a year meeting on plan to redraw the voting district boundaries -- to reflect new census data -- but could not come to an agreement. The charter requires that a new redistricting plan be forwarded from that committee and then be adopted by the full legislative body. The committee's membership also must be made up of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, under the charter guidelines -- despite which ever political party may hold the RTM majority at the time.

Republicans, in the wake of the Nov. 5 election, hold a 34-16 majority over Democrats on the 50-seat body.

After months of gridlock among the members of the previous Redistricting Committee, the Republicans earlier this year proposed a plan directly to the RTM that would have reduced the number of RTM districts from 10 to eight, while maintaining five representatives in each district. The plan passed the RTM on a party-line vote, but was challenged in court by Democrats.

A Bridgeport Superior Court judge agreed with the lawsuit, ruling last July that the RTM did not follow the charter or its own rules in acting on the GOP-backed plan. The new redistricting plan was thrown out, and voting in the Nov. 5 election went forward using the old 10-district map.