New Connecticut political map adds state House seat in Fairfield County

HARTFORD — The state’s westward migration over the last 10 years has resulted in an additional seat representing Fairfield County in the state House of Representatives, as well as more compact districts in Stamford, in the new political map for the 2022 elections unanimously approved Thursday.

The 42nd House District, represented in recent years by Republican Mike France, of Ledyard, in eastern Connecticut, who is running for the GOP’s 2nd Congressional District nomination, will shift to Wilton on the map approved with little discussion by the nine-member Reapportionment Commission.

Stamford’s 147th District, which is shared with Darien and is represented by state Rep. Matt Blumenthal, will now be located entirely in the state’s second-largest city. After the committee vote, members of the commission described having to reduce the size of the 146th District of Rep. David Michel, because over the previous 10 years, 10,000 people in excess of the 23,800 target population moved into that Stamford district.

The 36-seat state Senate map is getting closer to a bipartisan agreement, according to commission members, who will soon ask the state Supreme Court for permission to extend beyond the Nov. 30 deadline to finish discussions on the five-district congressional map.

A late arrival of the decennial U.S. Census in August — four months later than usual — delayed closed-door negotiations.

Speaker of the House Matt Ritter, of Hartford, and House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, of North Branford, agreed that unlike many states where the party in legislative power draws the maps, Connecticut’s process was bipartisan, generally respecting incumbents, but aware of the shifting state population.

“I think there were pockets of change that made it difficult — certainly, in Fairfield County and even some areas of New Haven County,” Candelora told reporters Thursday in a virtual news conference. “The difficult decisions were driven less on, sort of, partisan boundaries of districts and more driven by population and it made for very difficult choices for us.”

House Majority Leader Jason Rojas agreed that much of the negotiations were spent on new Fairfield County districts, “given the density of the area, the relatively small geographic area and seeing that that’s where the significant population growth took place.”

During public hearing testimony earlier in the year, Wilton residents asked for their own district rather than sharing it with other towns. Another town that will become a single district for the next 10 years starting with the 2022 elections is Goshen. But another city seeking single-district status — Derby — remains in multi-districts.

“Lots of people were requesting accommodations,” Rojas said. “It becomes a factor of not being able to meet all of them because we have to set geographic boundaries you have to operate in. It’s difficult to arrive at everyone’s accommodation that has been requested.”

“One of our underlying principles, too, is making sure the integrity of the district still remained,” said Candelora, whose 86th District has shifted over the decades and now includes Durham, Guilford and Wallingford in addition to North Branford. In the new map, Candelora will lose Wallingford, but will gain a portion of East Haven.

“There are individuals that like having additional reps in a district because they get greater representation and a community like Derby has Republicans and Democrats representing them, which is always a plus,” Candelora said.

“We can’t always accommodate, but we tried,” Ritter said, adding that negotiators also attempted to honor traditional majority and minority districts, allowing Black and Latino districts to remain. “They are all the same as before and that was non-negotiable for everyone in the room.”

“There are some people that might be very happy to have a change to their district, but by and large, I find that the state reps love their district the way it is and it’s always a challenge to address change,” Candelora said. “If somebody has gained a new town, it gives them a great opportunity to reenergize themselves into a new community, and certainly if they’ve lost a town, those individuals will be the most unhappy because you get attached to your district.”

kdixon@ctpost.com Twitter: @KenDixonCT