The Apportionment Board counted, and they counted 30. At the board’s meeting on Wednesday, the seven-member panel resolved the fuzzy math problem it created last week – a redistricting map with 31 members instead of the constitutionally acceptable 30 — as it attempted to resolve the thorny 6-member district conundrum in Chittenden County.
Last week, after concentrating most of its efforts on finalizing the House district plan, the board hurriedly fixed its deviation problem in the Senate plan by adding an extra member in the Chittenden County area. Unfortunately for the board, the Senate has just 30 members, and the extra Chittenden County seat had to come from somewhere else.
That somewhere else was the Northeast Kingdom, which lost a senator as a result of declining population in the region. In the new Senate district map, Essex County has been peeled off the Orleans County district and combined with Caledonia County.
The proposed change makes Orleans a single-seat district and pits two long serving members against each other — Sen. Vince Illuzzi, R/D-Essex-Orleans, who has been in office since 1980, and Sen. Bobby Starr, D-Essex-Orleans, who first came to the Legislature in 1985. They both live in Orleans County — Illuzzi in Newport; Starr in North Troy.
“Essex and Orleans have a commonality of interests and communication,” Illuzzi said in an interview. Although it is hard to predict what will happen when the plan gets to the Senate, Illuzzi said “generally the least amount of change gets adopted.”
In 2002, Caledonia County was a two-member district, as was the Essex-Orleans district.
Chittenden County was broken up into three, two-seat districts. One change there may also result in an incumbent clash. Burlington, now a two-member district, currently has three senators: Tim Ashe, a Democrat/Progressive; Hinda Miller, a Democrat; and Philip Baruth, a Democrat and the most junior of the three members.
With the elimination of the Northeast Kingdom seat, the board brought its overall deviation down to 14.87 percent, about the level in 2002.
The new Senate redistricting map was approved by a 4-to-2 vote. Though Apportionment Board member and Republican Neale Lunderville presented the plan, he voted against it, along with Democrat Frank Cioffi. The yeas came from Steve Hingtgen (Progressive), Robert Roper (Republican), Gerry Gossens (Democrat) and Chairman Tom Little (Republican). Meg Brook, the second Progressive on the board, was not present.
Little said he felt “pretty good” about the outcome of the plan.
“I think this reflects the interest of getting to smaller districts and follows county lines sensibly,” Little said.
The senate plan as adopted by the board can be found here: http://vermont-elections.org/LABSenate/2011SenateProposalFinal.pdf
The 2002 version of the senate plan can be found here: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/reports/02Redistricting/Act151_Senate_Map.pdf
Details of how the plan changed follows.
GRAND ISLE – CHITTENDEN
The former six-member Chittenden district was cut up into four two-member districts including Grand Isle.
Alburgh was added back to the Grand Isle-Chittenden district as well as Milton in Chittenden County and Georgia from Franklin County.
The two-member Chittenden Center district is located in Burlington.
The two-seat Chittenden West district includes South Burlington, Winooski, Williston, St. George and Shelburne.
Chittenden East includes: Essex, Westford, Underhill, Jericho, Bolton, Richmond, Hinesburg, Huntington and Buels Gore. This grouping is a two-member district.
The Franklin district, also a two-member district, loses Alburgh and Georgia but gains Richford and Montgomery from Orleans, bringing the districts in the areas back within county lines.
Orleans becomes a single-member district. It loses Richford and Montgomery as well as Eden, Craftsbury, Wolcott, Greensboro, Glover, Barton and all of Essex County.
Caledonia now combined with Essex as a proposed two-member district loses: Orange, Topsham, Newbury, Bradford, Fairlee and West Fairlee. It gains: Wolcott, Craftsbury, Greensboro, Glover and Barton.
The Lamoille district loses Elmore, gains Eden and remains a one-member district.
The Washington district gains Elmore and remains a three-member district.
Addison district loses Brandon and gains Charlotte, remaining a two-member district.
ORANGE-NORTH WINDSOR DISTRICT
Orange County district will be picking up additional towns from the previous Caledonia Senate district to the north and also add the north part of Windsor County, creating a two-member Orange-North Windsor district.
Towns added from the north to Orange-North Windsor district include: Orange, Topsham, Newbury, Bradford, Fairlee and West Fairlee.
Additions to the Orange-North Windsor district from Windsor County include: Rochester, Bethel, Royalton, Sharon, Stockbridge, Barnard, Pomfret, Bridgewater and Woodstock.
The two incumbents from those areas are Mark MacDonald of Williamstown and Dick McCormack from Bethel. Under this map McCormack would represent north Windsor County as well as Orange County.
South Windsor becomes a two-member district.
The Rutland district gains Brandon and remains a three-member district.
The Bennington district loses Readsboro, Searsburg and Wilmington and gains Stratton, Jamaica and Londonderry, remaining a two-member district.
The Windham district loses Stratton, Jamaica and Londonderry and gains Readsboro, Searsburg and Wilmington remaining a two-member district.