A group of Connecticut lawmakers has wrapped up public hearings on redistricting efforts based on new census data. The committee received 70 total written comments, 18 about separating Wilton and Norwalk. A few were generic comments asking that no changes be made to state House and Senate along with Congressional borders. In-person hearings were held in three locations and an hour and a half virtual hearing was held.
Nearly all of the virtual public hearing speakers, 17 of the 25, were from Wilton or Norwalk. Former Representative and Senator Toni Boucher says Wilton has grown by 2-percent, with nearly the total population needed for its own seat. Former Representative Gail Lavielle says cities and towns have different priorities and needs.
The Waterbury Registrar asked for precise details and addresses of where district lines end noting that there are multiple state representative and senate seats, but also two congressional districts in Waterbury. A Darient resident, one from Greenwich and one from Hartford also weighed in.
A member of the Princeton University Gerrymandering Project also testified, though as a Connecticut resident and not on behalf of Princeton. Ryan Scala is a public policy graduate student at UConn, part of the PGP which works with state partners and performs nonpartisan analysis to try and eliminate gerrymandering nationwide. He told the committee that one metric used to gauge if a map is gerrymandered or not is if “communities of interest” or COIs are split. COIs are groups that could be similar racially, economically, geographically or other factor.
He was critical of the current congressional map because it splits the Naugatuck Valley, Farmington Valley, and Litchfield Hills, diluting the influence voters in these regions should have. Scala also noted that the current state Senate map splits the Litchfield Hills into three districts, when the region can be put into one Senate district, and Senate District 28 takes Fairfield, which part of the Gold Coast, and combines it with Newtown, which is a very different area of the state.