Vermont Senate redistricting plan eliminates NEK seat

Looking over the latest redistricting maps. VTD/Josh Larkin

Looking over the latest redistricting maps. VTD/Josh Larkin


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.

CHITTENDEN CENTER

The two-member Chittenden Center district is located in Burlington.

CHITTENDEN WEST

The two-seat Chittenden West district includes South Burlington, Winooski, Williston, St. George and Shelburne.

CHITTENDEN EAST

Chittenden East includes: Essex, Westford, Underhill, Jericho, Bolton, Richmond, Hinesburg, Huntington and Buels Gore. This grouping is a two-member district.

FRANKLIN

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

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-ESSEX

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.

LAMOILLE

The Lamoille district loses Elmore, gains Eden and remains a one-member district.

WASHINGTON

The Washington district gains Elmore and remains a three-member district.

ADDISON

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.

RUTLAND

The Rutland district gains Brandon and remains a three-member district.

BENNINGTON

The Bennington district loses Readsboro, Searsburg and Wilmington and gains Stratton, Jamaica and Londonderry, remaining a two-member district.

WINDHAM

The Windham district loses Stratton, Jamaica and Londonderry and gains Readsboro, Searsburg and Wilmington remaining a two-member district.

Comments

  1. Eric Davis :

    On balance, the LRB’s proposed Senate map appears to be slightly more advantageous to the Republicans than the current Senate map, for the following reasons:

    1. One Democratic incumbent in Burlington would lose his/her seat.

    2. Bobby Starr (D) will be in a very competitive race with Vince Illuzzi for the Orleans seat, and could lose.

    3. The Republicans will be competitive in the open seat in the new two-member Grand Isle-Chittenden district. Dick Mazza (D) will win one of the two seats, but a Republican candidate could win the second seat. Colchester and Milton, the two largest towns in the district, are more Republican than the rest of Chittenden County.

    4. The Republicans could possibly win the open seat in the new two-member Chittenden East district. Diane Snelling (R) is the only incumbent who now lives in this district. However, the GOP’s prospects for picking up an open seat look better in Chittenden-Grand Isle than in Chittenden East.

    5. Moving Brandon (a strong Republican town) from the Addison to the Rutland district makes it less likely that the Democrats will ever win more than one of the three seats in that district.

    6. Moving the Orange County towns along the Connecticut River that are now in the Caledonia district to the new Orange-Windsor North district makes it more likely that the Republicans hold on to one seat in the new Caledonia district, and possibly win both seats, if Jane Kitchel were to retire or be appointed to another position sometime in the next decade.

    It will be interesting to see how the Senate reacts to the LRB’s proposal come January. There could well be a push to keep a 6-person Chittenden district that recombines the LRB’s proposed 2-person Chittenden Central, Chittenden East, and Chittenden West districts. Certainly the Burlington Democrats would prefer keeping a 6-member Chittenden district.

  2. Phil Dodd :

    Personally, I think this plan is an improvement. A six-member district is too unwieldy, and is unfair.

    Right now, a Chittenden County resident has six senators who will listen to them closely because he or she is a constituent, and that resident gets to vote for six senators. The rest of us only have one or two or three senators who will pay close attention, and we can’t vote for as many senators.

  3. Amand Brunelle :

    why don’t they just do away with our northest kingdom senators all to gether. burlington dosen’t care about us anyhow!

  4. Tim Fritz :

    The Northeast Kingdom is to Vermont as Vermont is to the nation. Too few people to give a damn about. Why else do questionably justifiable wind projects get to rape our ridges with our governor and congressional cheering them on in the name of appearing to support alternative energy. This is just another case of those who live in an area of sparse population being a dumping ground. I’m a little surprised that no one has proposed us as an alternative to Yucca Mountain.

  5. Matt Choate :

    Personally I have always thought that we should change the format to the national model. Areas with more population already get more representation in the House. We should have 2 Senators per county x 14 counties = 28 Senators. We could drop 2 from the current group and give each part of the State equal representation in the Senate and proportional representation in the House.

  6. Sarah Landers :

    The most radical changes are really in Southern Vermont and I have serious, serious concerns about this map. The real problem is the people on the LRB are not from southern Vermont. There is no one with any knowledge or comprehension of the demographics, the towns, the geography or anything (for that matter) about Windham, Windsor and Bennington Counties.

    I am happy that the Legislature declared this plan “dead on arrival” and I trust them a hell of a lot more than the Republicans and Progressives in putting together a plan that supports them and them only.

    I doubt any significant changes will occur when the Legislature is done with this and we can move on.

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