Democrats gather signatures to return to 7-district council
Many voters heading to the polls Tuesday voted at a different location than they were used to, as the 2012 election was the first under the new four-district division in town. Since 1980 Trumbull had been divided into seven districts, but a charter revision changed that to a four-district plan, with one district being about 20% larger than the other three.
On Tuesday a petition drive headed by Town Councilman Vicki Tesoro collected signatures at the polling locations. The petition seeks to return the town to its seven-district plan.
"In some cases there was some confusion with people going to the wrong locations or waiting in line, especially at Middlebrook School, which is where the 'superdistrict' votes," Tesoro said. "But the larger issue is the unequal division of the districts and the reduction in minority representation."
Under the seven-district plan, each district was represented by three councilmen, with one seat reserved for the minority party. Thus, no party could control more than 14 of the 21 council seats.
Under the four-district plan, three districts have five representatives, and one has six. Again, one seat is set aside for the minority party. Conceivably that could result in a 17-4 partisan split if one party swept the town-wide election. The difference between 14-7 and 17-4 is critical, considering that some council actions, such as overriding a first selectman's veto, require a two-thirds majority, or 14 of 21 votes.
The petition drive requires 2,390 signatures to force the Town Council to discuss the issue and vote. Should the council reject the district changes, the matter could go directly to the voters in a referendum.
Tesoro said the Election Day petition effort had been successful, but she had not yet counted signatures. She said she would continue to collect signatures until she met the 2,390 threshold and urged residents wishing to sign to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers collecting petition signatures handed out an information sheet with their arguments for going back to a seven-district plan. Among the reasons listed were stronger minority party representation, equal representation among districts, better meeting the legal requirements of "one man, one vote," less ballot confusion, and enhanced neighborhood identity.
Proponents of the new four-district plan have cited reduced expense and manpower requirements due to needing to staff only four polls. Also, the "superdistrict" encompasses all of Trumbull's 134th legislative district, reducing the number of split districts in which voters require separate ballots for their Town Council and state House of Representatives votes.