Deadlocked again: GOP, Dems still can't agree on redistricting
Monday night's meeting of the Representative Town Meeting's Redistricting Committee ended the same as those that came before it -- with the political parties still deadlocked on a new map for local voting districts.
Republicans, who hold a
majority on the RTM, want to cut the number of districts
from 10 to eight, while the Democrats want to maintain a map with 10 districts.
The committee on redistricting, however, is made up of three RTM members from each political party.
Democrats thought the panel had reached a consensus last September to draw two new maps that still had 10 districts, and bring both to the floor of the full RTM for a vote.
In fact, the minutes from the Sept. 13 meeting show that the motion to bring two 10-district plans to the floor was approved by a 4-2 vote, with Chairman Hank Ference, a Republican, voting with Democrats John Mitola, Lenora Campbell and Kevin Hoffkins so the committee impasse could be broken and decided by the full RTM.
The committee didn't meet again until February, with Ed Bateson replacing Joseph Palmer. At that time, Bateson said it appeared the committee appeared ready to agree on a compromise plan with nine voting districts, although no motions were made to take a vote on the proposal.
"The committee voted to go in this direction," Mitola said, referring to bringing the two 10-
district proposals to the full RTM.
Bateson said while he might be able to sell a nine-district plan to the GOP caucus if he had support from some Democrats, there is no way a 10-district plan would win approval from the full RTM.
"Our caucus does not approve of a 10-district plan," Bateson said Monday.
Neither the town charter nor state statutes require that the number of districts be changed, but districts should be reapportioned to reflect changes in census data.
At Hoffkins' request, the committee is tentatively scheduled to meet May 7 in order for him to bring the redistricting issue back to the Democratic caucus. "We might have something we can change," he said.
The Democrats' 10-
district plan has six districts that lean toward Democrats' voter registration advantage and four that are considered Republican. The GOP's eight-district plan has five districts where Republicans would hold an advantage and three Democratic districts.
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