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Redistricting Committee Deadlocked, Looks to Present Two Maps to RTM

Unable to come to a compromise, the members believe bringing two maps to the full body to vote on is the answer.

The RTM Redistricting Committee has cleared , but a compromise on the number of districts and representatives per district remains out of reach.

David Becker, R-1, told members of the committee last week that he had gotten a third opinion on the deadline to choose a redistricting plan from Ted Bromley, an attorney at the Capitol.

According to Bromley, Connecticut General Statute Sec. 9-169b dictates that in a year , municipalities can make their own decisions as to when to finalize redistricting -- as long as it's done by Election Day (Nov. 6).

Since redistricting is being passed as an ordinance in Fairfield, there is a two-week period after the RTM approves a plan before it is enacted -- so it must be approved by Oct. 23.

"This is the answer I think everyone wants -- that we have more time," Becker said.

But the committee remains deadlocked on what the plan to present to the full body should be.

The three Democrats on the committee -- Leonora Campbell (D-6), Kevin Hoffkins (D-7), and John Mitola (D-2) said their caucus wants a 10-district map with five representatives. Republicans Becker, Joseph Palmer (R-4), and Hank Ference (R-3) said the GOP majority favors eight or nine districts with five representatives each.

The GOP wants to see a reduced RTM, which they believe will make for more efficient body. The Democrats think a body with 50 representatives from 10 districts has been working and will continue to work.

"To get something that's agreeable to both of us, it seems we should just keep the same number of districts," Hoffkins said.

Palmer said he thought the committee had come close to a compromise with nine districts and five representatives, which would cut the RTM body from 50 members to 45.

Hoffkins countered that it wasn't fair to say they were close to a compromise.

"We didn't think nine was a good number or a good representation," he said. "You can't come out and ask for an extraordinary change to our districts."

Palmer argued that reducing the RTM was not extraordinary, but a "no-brainer."

"The body is so big it's not working. There would be better communication if it was smaller," he said. "We all want what's best for our town."

But Mitola pointed out that the RTM was based on the large Congress that represents the U.S.

"There's one president, a smaller Senate, and a larger Congress -- this is akin to Congress. The idea is to give people representation, not dilute that," he said.

Neither side would budge on the number of districts/representatives, so the committee is looking into whether or not it can present two plans for the RTM to vote on.

Campbell asked that the committee aim to come up with the two plans by the Sept. 24 RTM meeting to give voters and the Registrars time to become familiar with whichever plan is voted on.

"We have to be fair to the voters. I think it's our responsibility to get it done, and not too late," she said.

The committee will next meet on Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 7:30 p.m. to discuss presenting two maps to the RTM.

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