Redistricting map finished

One map to guide them, one map to rule them

Rep. Donna Sweaney, chair of the House Government Operations Committee, during the 2011 legislative session. VTD/Josh Larkin

Rep. Donna Sweaney, chair of the House Government Operations Committee, during the 2011 legislative session. VTD/Josh Larkin

It is finished. Today, the House of Representatives has approved the final reapportionment map that sets the boundaries for the new districts for the decade to come.

The vote was 124-8, in favor.

Of the 104 districts, 50 were not changed, according to Rep. Donna Sweaney, D-Windsor, and chair of the Government Operations Committee, which led the effort. The deviation rate is about 18 percent for the House map.

The House, with a few changes, readopted the map it had previously approved before the Senate proposed major adjustments that were ultimately rejected in conference committee.

The year and a half long effort was marked by civility, tripartisan input and a conscious attempt at fairness and nonpartisanship on the part of the majority Democrats who led the process in the Legislature.

“This is the second time I’ve been involved in redistricting,” Sweaney said. The effort, unlike the more contentious 2002 redistricting process, was constructive and it was conducted in an “open and transparent setting,” she said.

“We wanted to make a political exercise as nonpolitical and fair as possible,” Sweaney said. “Granted these maps may not make everyone happy.”

Sweaney then quoted a “wise” lawmaker who once said: “It’s a real honor for me to represent the fine citizens of Vermont, no matter where I live.”

Not everyone was happy. A handful of members were directly affected by the changes voted against the reapportionment bill.

Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington, said her single-member district was in compliance already and didn’t need to be changed. Browning will now be part of a two-seat district with Rep. Jeff Wilson, D-Manchester.

“It’s never been about me or what I wanted,” Browning said. “It was about speaking for my towns and what they wanted. I deeply regret not succeeding as an advocate on their behalf.”

In order to give Burlington an additional House seat, the lines were redrawn to pull Mount Holly, Shrewsbury and Ludlow into a single-member district. As a result, Republican Dennis Devereux and Democrat Eldred French will go head to head this election.

Anne Galloway

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