The News-Times

Population shift moves CT Senate districts to the west, south

- By Julia Bergman julia.bergman@ hearstmedi­

Fairfield County residents will see some new faces representi­ng them in the state Senate in the 10-year political map approved by lawmakers on Tuesday, while representa­tion in eastern Connecticu­t will mostly stay the same.

A bipartisan panel of representa­tives and senators, who make up eight of the nine-member Reapportio­nment Commission, unanimousl­y approved the 36 new state Senate districts Tuesday during a brief meeting. Last week the commission, which is redrawing the political boundaries to account for population changes reflected in the 2020 Census, approved the new 151-seat House districts

“It was truly a bipartisan effort,” said Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford. “We had great collaborat­ion, cooperatio­n, discussion­s. We didn’t always see eye-to-eye but that’s part of the process. The fact is we were forced to work it out due to the Constituti­on.”

The biggest change is to the 27th Senate District, represente­d by Democrat Patricia Billie Miller of Stamford, which had 11,000 people more than the maximum allowed.

The target population for Senate districts is between 95,000 and 105,000.

“That was the first domino that drove all the other changes that we had to make in Fairfield County,” said Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney of New Haven.

As a result, the 27th District lost the Springdale neighborho­od in the eastern part of Stamford to the 26th Senate District, which is represente­d by Democrat Will Haskell of Westport. Haskell’s current district includes Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport and Wilton. The 26th District also picked up northern portions of Darien.

The 7th Senate District, represente­d by Enfield Republican John Kissel, picked up parts of Ellington and Windsor after a new state law that requires inmates be counted as residents of the municipali­ties where they lived before they were incarcerat­ed. Kissel’s district includes more than 3,600 prison inmates.

In Litchfield County, the 30th Senate District, the largest geographic­ally in the state, which borders New York and Massachuse­tts, grew to the east, and now includes all of Torrington. The district is represente­d by Republican Craig Miner of Litchfield.

The 32nd Senate District, represente­d by Republican Eric Berthel of Watertown, moved south, losing portions of Warren and Washington to Miner’s district.

As for the two districts represente­d by the Republican and Democratic leaders, Kelly’s 21st District now includes more of Seymour whereas Looney’s 11th District includes more of North Haven and less of Hamden.

The new 151-seat House of Representa­tives map, approved unanimousl­y by the commission with little discussion last week, include an additional seat representi­ng Fairfield County, as well as more compact districts in Stamford. Eastern Connecticu­t lost a state House seat.

While Connecticu­t’s overall population grew by less than 1 percent in the last 10 years, areas in the western half of the state saw large increases, while eastern Connecticu­t saw declines. Stamford saw the largest population growth of any municipali­ty at 10 percent. In Fairfield County, the voting-age population grew by about 8 percent.

“There was a pretty big pendulum swing that had to be addressed even though the overall numbers look pretty stable in the state’s population,” Looney said. “It wasn’t quite as easy as it appeared from the outside.”

While a series of public hearings held earlier this year around the state solicited feedback on what the new political boundaries should be, the actual redrawing of the maps was done by lawmakers behind closed doors.

The Reapportio­nment Commission, which includes John McKinney, a former GOP senator as its tie-breaking member, has yet to take up the task of drawing the new five-district congressio­nal map in Connecticu­t. Members acknowledg­ed Tuesday it would not meet Nov. 30 deadline. Lawmakers said they plan to ask the state Supreme Court for an extension, likely around three weeks, to reach consensus on congressio­nal boundaries.

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