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State Senate redistricting keeps eastern Connecticut as is

The General Assembly's Reapportionment Commission unanimously approved a new map for Connecticut’s state Senate districts on Tuesday.

None of the changes affect southeastern Connecticut; the region’s Senate districts — 18, 19, 20 and 33 — are largely staying the same. Population increases in the Stamford area did cause a change.

State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, put it simply on Tuesday: “Eastern Connecticut in the Senate stayed pretty much the same.”

“I’ve always enjoyed my district and I’m pleased that I get to stay representing the people I’ve been representing all along,” she said. “I thought I might get another town or two ... but I didn’t know what was going to happen. I have fewer people right now, but I was significantly over the 100,000 mark before, now I’m just slightly under.”

State Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, who is on the commission, said the nine-person group — he and Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford; House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford; state Rep. Jason Perillo, R-Shelton; House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford; House Majority Leader Jason Rojas, D-East Hartford; Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven; Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, and John McKinney, a former Republican state senator chosen by the commission — had the same question for state Senate redistricting as it did House redistricting.

“How do we best accommodate the population increase in Fairfield County as efficiently as possible?” Formica said, adding that the commission tried to keep Senate districts to between about 95,000 and 105,000 people. The Fairfield area of the state did see some changes, with the 26th District extending into Stamford, among other alterations.

Southeastern Connecticut was more affected by the new state House district map approved by the commission last week.

State representatives and senators said last week that a population shift away from eastern Connecticut and toward Fairfield County accounted for adding the 42nd district to cover Wilton, part of New Canaan and part of Ridgefield and taking it away from Ledyard, Preston and part of Montville. State Rep. Mike France, R-Ledyard, currently represents the 42nd district. He is retiring after his current term, making the loss of the seat sting less for Republicans. France said he made the decision to show he’s serious about running for U.S. Congress against Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District.

Almost all of Ledyard is now in Republican Rep. Greg Howard’s  43rd District, but part of it is also in the 45th District, currently represented by Republican Brian Lanoue of Griswold. The new House district map also includes part of Montville in the 37th District, a seat held by Rep. Holly Cheeseman, R-East Lyme. Joe de la Cruz, D-Groton, who represents the 41st District, is picking up part of Stonington from Howard as a result of Howard's district taking in the majority of Ledyard. The 40th District, represented by Christine Conley, now will have the southern tip of New London and will no longer have part of Ledyard.

Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Chaplin, of the 47th District will no longer represent Lebanon — Tim Ackert, R-Coventry, of the 8th District will. Dubitsky’s district no longer encompasses Hampton and now includes parts of Brooklyn and Plainfield. There were no changes in Sprague, Lisbon or Norwich. The 139th District represented by Rep. Kevin Ryan, D-Montville, gains more land in Montville with the new map. Ryan’s district also moves into Ledyard.

The first election with the new districts will be held in November 2022.

At the end of Tuesday’s commission meeting, members wondered aloud about the process of petitioning the state Supreme Court for an extra three weeks to redraw the state’s congressional districts.

This year's was a rushed process. Due to COVID-19, census data arrived months later than usual, significantly slowing redistricting. The commission’s deadline to finish all three maps is Nov. 30; after that, the task is left to the state Supreme Court. Formica said legislative staff members are going to look into past redistricting for a precedent for an extension.

“I think we did a couple of things today. We were able to get on the record the fact that we’re going to try to get the congressional districts done within our time charged, but if not, we’re going to look to precedent to see what has happened in the past, specifically 10 years ago was discussed, and what is that process,” Formica said.

“My sense is the Supreme Court would rather have us finish the job, even if it took a week or two, than have them get involved," he added, "because we’ve already been immersed in the details.”

s.spinella@theday.com

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