Breaking–Montpelier Board Rejects District Split

In a process likely to be repeated in legislative districts across the state, the Montpelier Board of Civil Authority voted last night, 13-3, to reject the proposal of the Legislative Apportionment Board to split the two-member Montpelier House district into two single-member districts.

As we've previously reported, reapportionment is a legislative football again this year, and the board initially assigned to the task took the radical step of eliminating every one of the forty-some two-member House districts, splitting them into smaller single-member districts.

Not surprising, right? If your party is the minority party in the legislature (or parties, since we're talking about both the Republicans and the Progressives) you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by screwing around with the seats held by Democrats, which is most of them.

Only it led to some peculiar decisions. For instance, Montpelier has been represented by two Democrats since 1984, and our two current representatives are Warren Kitzmiller and Mary Hooper. The only tricky thing is that Warren and Mary live on the same street, about half a mile apart, so in order to preserve incumbency, one of the legislatively permitted considerations, the line drawn by the apportionment board has a peculiar jog to avoid putting Warren and Mary in the same district and making them run against each other.

In last night's discussion the Board of Civil Authority considered all the arguments, including the idea that a smaller district is more democratic because each voter is one of only 4,000 residents of a district as opposed to 8,000 in a two-member district, and that a smaller district creates lower barriers to electoral participation, but the Board was ultimately persuaded by the homogeneous nature of Montpelier's population and the benefits of having two representatives, each of whom represents the entire city.

 Look for this to be repeated across the state as local boards of civil authority meet to comply with the July 31 reporting deadling.

7 thoughts on “Breaking–Montpelier Board Rejects District Split

  1. too much at once will ruin what you are trying to cook up…….    unfortunately this process was used to try to advance a political objective.  Manipulation by one party to try to gain power, and by another to try to limit.   Seems like horseshoes is the only game you cant rig these days.

  2. Democratic majority in legislature.

    Democratic governor.

    No reason to change, compromise, accept recommendations or make any concessions whatsoever.

    Leg leaders should make their own committee to have a bill ready for Governor by January 31.

    There, we’re done.  No fear, no worries, nothing.

  3. After all, it’s what they do.

    BCA members are elected JPs and Selectboard members.  They will usually reflect the party preferences of their community.  If the voters in a two-member district are split 52-48, the two-member district will result in a 2-0 split in favor of the majority.  Just the way the majority likes it.  And it’s the same tactic that was used by Southern whites before the Voting Rights Act was passed.  Be proud.

    Protecting the rights of minorities … a priority only if one is in the minority, I guess.

  4. Published July 26, 2011 in the Rutland Herald

    Rutland County reapportionment plan draws ire

    By Gordon Dritschilo and Lucia Suarez

    Castleton is split in two, and half is attached to each Pittsford and Hubbardton. Ira is reunited and placed with Clarendon and Shrewsbury. Poultney is paired with Middletown Springs.

  5. It’s a useful exercise regardless as it avoids the heavy handed appearance of your proposal. Any time you can propose something that would be “more democratic” it bears at least a cursory investigation. If the local civil authorities reject it out of hand rather than the legislature doing all the complaining it theoretically prevents the republicans from crying about golden dome gerrymandering.

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