Trumbull registrars offer new poll locations, prepare for 7 districts

TRUMBULL — One of the final steps needed to return the town to seven equal voting districts has been completed, pending a public hearing at the June 7 town council meeting.

Republican Registrar of Voters Tracy Vonick told the council’s Legislation and Administration Committee that he and Jean Rabinow, his Democratic counterpart, have agreed on the seven polling locations.

The committee then unanimously approved a resolution repealing the section of the Trumbull Municipal Code that listed polling places for the previous four-district council configuration.

The committee, and the full council, do not vote on new polling places.

“Under state statute, it is within the purview of the registrars to determine where polling places are,” said town attorney Dan Schopick. “It is not up to the council unless the registrars fail to agree.”

The seven locations are as follows: District 1 — Daniels Farm School; District 2 — Booth Hill School; District 3 — Tashua School; District 4 — Jane Ryan School; District 5 — Middlebrook School; District 6 — Madison Middle School; and District 7 — Christian Heritage School.

The return to seven districts, which the council used for 28 years until changing to four districts in 2012, passed the council in August by a 13-7 vote. With the town charter’s minority representation provision, that means no party can hold more than a 14-7 majority.

“The seven-district configuration served the town well for three decades,” said First Selectman Vicki Tesoro during a public hearing on the topic. “We have had Democratic and Republican first selectmen, and Democratic and Republican council majorities.”

Proponents of the change back to seven districts pointed out that the districts would be equal. Under the four-district plan, District 4 is 20 percent larger than the other three districts and was represented by six council members. The other three districts each had five representatives.

The move also expanded minority representation on the council. Since the districts each must have at least one member of either a different political party or politically unaffiliated, parties are limited to holding 14 of the 21 seats. That is important because some council actions — like overriding first selectman’s vetoes and appointing members to some committees — requires a two-thirds vote.

The move to decrease the size of a potential partisan split was one of the main reasons Democrats gave for supporting the seven-district council. Since the 2012 realignment, Republicans had held a 17-4 majority from 2015 to 2017. The party split swung the other way in 2017 and 2019, when Democrats built a supermajority. Currently, the council consists of 14 Democrats, 5 Republicans and unaffiliated members Tom Whitmoyer and Lisa Valenti, who both ran on the Democratic ticket despite not being members of the party.

Republican arguments against switching back to seven districts, detailed in a minority report by council member Tony Scinto, included the argument that the seven districts averaged 5,145 people per district. But the largest district includes 99 more people than the smallest.

“No proposed district has that average number,” Scinto wrote. “Three proposed districts have less, and four proposed districts have more. The spread of 99 from the largest to the smallest creates unequal districts.”

Laurel Anderson, a former Democratic registrar who chaired the committee, criticized Scinto’s counting method, pointing out that none of the districts deviated more than 50 from the 5,145 average.

“If you use the average per district, it is not off, ever, more than 50 voters, which is then under a 1 percent difference per district,” she said. “So I think the ‘one person, one vote’ rule absolutely stands up when you’re talking about less than a 1 percent change.”