Population shift moves CT Senate districts to the west, south
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.