The Democrats on the RTM Redistricting Committee continue to work with the Republicans toward a redistricting plan that is best for the Town of Fairfield. Since the beginning of this committee’s work, our goal has been to embrace a plan that would give both parties a reasonable opportunity to fairly compete in the RTM election process.
The Republican statement that the Democrats advocated a nine district plan but then backed off is just not true. The Democrats never advocated nine districts as the best result for the town but agreed to look into whether a nine district plan could be achievable as a way to compromise with Republicans. The Republicans had been advocating an entirely new make-up of the RTM- 8 districts 5 members per district which would have resulted in much larger districts and a reduction of RTM representation by 10 seats. Nor, did the Democrats ever tell the Republicans that we were shutting the door entirely to nine districts. If the Republicans or the Registrars of Voters can come up with a nine district plan that appears workable, we would be willing to present it to our caucus. However, such a plan would have to be fair and equitable for both sides because competitive/representative government is good for the citizens of Fairfield. No one political party should be able to craft voting districts that solely benefit that party as that takes choice away from the citizens of Fairfield.
One party government in the RTM is not good for the Town of Fairfield or anywhere else for that matter. Over the last ten years the ten district system has allowed both parties to enjoy substantial majorities on the RTM. At one point the Democrats had a 40-10 advantage, while at another point the Republicans had a 38-12 majority. Simply put ten districts has worked well over the last 10 years.
To date the Republicans have failed to make a case justifying the reduction in the number of districts. The cost savings of nine districts would be minimal, for the Town would only save $2-3000 per election if we had eight districts. The Redistricting Committee was never given firm numbers for savings with nine committees, but it would obviously be even less. Such a savings would be meaningless given our total budget of $272 Million. Furthermore, what price can you put on a well functioning democratic process? With ten districts, our representatives are well able to focus on neighborhood issues and local school issues. When you reduce the number of districts, you must make them larger and thereby more difficult for representatives to be close to the people and in touch with neighborhood issues.
We also must dispute the claim that not coming to an agreement now will cost the Town $25,000 in extra expense this year. To date, the Redistricting Committee was never given an official number by the Registrars of the additional cost for not having a redistricting plan in place if any. Also, it was the redistricting for state representatives that created the 21 voting districts, and not the failure of the RTM to redistrict. In past years, the RTM has taken up to a year to come up with a redistricting plan..
We remain willing to work with the Republicans to come up with a plan that is best for the Town of Fairfield. However, the Republicans have failed to make the case for reducing the number of districts and causing disruption in our election system. With ten districts the number of changes in voting places for Fairfield residents would be minimized. If the Republicans are so concerned about saving the town money, they should stop insisting on reducing the number of districts and allow us to come to a quick agreement on redistricting.