New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)
Shelton lawmakers at center of Connecticut legislative redistricting
“It’s really the process by which we make sure that the one vote — the strength of that vote — is maintained, and to make sure that fairness and equality reigns throughout the process.”
State Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford
SHELTON — The bipartisan group of lawmakers tasked with redrawing the legislative district maps has a solid Shelton component.
State Rep. Jason Perillo, R-Shelton, and state Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, who also represents Shelton, both served on the Reapportionment Committee, an eight-member committee consisting of four legislators from each party, which hosted four public hearings on the future of the state’s district lines. Now the pair are on the commission which will create the proposed map.
“With Kevin and I both serving on the committee, Shelton is at the center of the state redistricting effort,” said Perillo, the first Shelton lawmaker to serve on such a committee. “This is a good thing for the region. We take this very seriously with equity and fairness as the number one goal.”
According to state and federal law, districts must be redrawn based on population shifts every 10 years following completion of the U.S. Census so each person’s vote to carries equal importance.
“Redistricting is something that we only do once every 10 years, but nonetheless it’s very important work in the whole entire aspect of our democracy,” said Kelly, the state Senate Republican leader and co-chairman of the Reapportionment Committee. He represents a district that includes parts of Seymour, Monroe, Shelton and Stratford.
“It’s really the process by which we make sure that the one vote — the strength of that vote — is maintained, and to make sure that fairness and equality reigns throughout the process,” Kelly said.
House Republican Leader Vincent
Candelora, R-North Branford, said Perillo had been a natural choice to help guide the redistricting process.
“His ability to deconstruct complex issues has provided him countless opportunities to work with legislators throughout the state from both sides of the aisle, and through those experiences he’s developed a rich understanding of the issues, needs and people within our many unique communities,” Candelora said. “I couldn’t imagine choosing anyone else but Jason to help lead our state’s redistricting project.”
Candelora added that it was “abundantly clear” that Perillo takes pride in partipating in the process.
Perillo said the legislators were currently working with their staffs to develop equitable district maps.
“We utilize software that contains all the census blocks and population information,” he said.
Perillo said he and Candelora have already begun talking with the Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz, D-Southington, and Majority Leader Matt RItter, D-Hartford, and “it’s very clear that everyone wants a fair process.”
These discussions will continue until the commission reaches an agreement. But with the census results delayed due to COVID-19, the lawmakers are operating on a short timeline.
“Of course, just as in life, there’s no way to make everyone happy,” Perillo said. “One change to district lines in Greenwich could lead to changes districts all the way across the state to ensure that everyone is fairly represented.”
The commission has until Nov. 30 to complete its work. If the commission cannot agree, the decision goes to the state Supreme Court. This is what happened with the last round of redistricting following the 2010 U.S. Census, when the court accepted a district map drawn by Nathaniel Persily, a political science professor at Columbia, who was appointed special master after the two sides could not reach an agreement.