State Reps. Joseph Serra, D-33, and Matthew Lesser, D-100, say the reduction of the city’s four state House districts into two under a new reapportionment plan approved Wednesday by the General Assembly’s Reapportionment Commission is mostly a positive change for Middletown.
“It will be good to have two full-time reps for Middletown, but not necessarily [a good thing for] the district overall — I have concerns about the impact of the redistricting process on Middlefield and Durham,” said Lesser, whose current district represents Durham, Middlefield and Middletown. Under the plan, which will take effect in January 2013, Lesser [if he wins re-election] will be solely dedicated to Middletown.
A 10-percent population increase in Middletown necessitated the change. At the 2000 U.S. Census, Middletown had 41,367 residents; in 2010, there were 47,648, an increase of 4,481 citizens.
“My district hasn’t changed that much,” said Serra, whose district now entirely comprises Middletown. In the current representation, Serra said, “that helps because four is more than two,” but explains he always considered the west side of Interstate 91, Berlin and Meriden to the west and Cromwell to the north, his area.
“I always represented them anyway because my total district was in Middletown,” Serra said.
Parts of Middletown would no longer be included in Democratic state Rep. Gail Hamm’s 34th District or Republican state Rep. Christie Carpino’s 32nd District.
“They still have me for another year, until the last day of my term,” stressed Carpino, whose Middletown constituents live on one side of Newfield Street. “I currently have about three blocks, that small part of Newfield, Stoneycrest and Rose Circle.”
Now, she said, the part of Middletown in her district “is confusing. Going southbound [on Route 3] it’s literally the left side of Newfield Street, not the right side.”
People have mistakenly contacted her thinking she’s their representative. “I’ve been at many events where folks will talk to me and I’ll say, ‘Unfortunately, I’m not your rep, but thank you for your kinds words,’” she said.
The redistricting, Carpino said, “is cleaner and simpler.” And losing that small part of Middletown in little more than a year, she said, won’t suddenly create more considerations for whichever representative gets her constituents.
“The issues are no different than other parts of Middletown — jobs, the economy and taxes,” Carpino said.
As the only Republican representative for Middletown, Carpino says when the city is split between Democrats Lesser and Serra, not much will change politically.
“The Republicans of Middletown are still strong. And I represent my constituents regardless of their party. I deal with the issues.”
Hamm’s constituency is “out by Xavier [High School], Maromas, the power plants, across the river to East Hampton,” Serra explained.
“This time, people looked at the math and [Middletown] fit exactly into two districts,” Lesser explained.
Serra, who’s been Middletown’s state rep. since 1992, said, “You usually try to keep a district at 22,000 to 24,000 people. We’ve attained that population so it’s easy for people doing it to split. What they had to do in the past is get people from other towns.”
In the state senate, Meriden's District 13 Senator Len Suzio (R) said Wednesday night that his district would be only slightly affected by the redistricting.
Presently, Middletown's Senate representation is split about north (Sen. Paul Doyle, D-9th District) and south (13th District). The January 2013 change would move the division to east (13th) and west (9th).
Suzio said that he would lose about 3,200 of his Middletown constitutents. The freshman senator was elected in early 2011 to represent Meriden and Middlefield, and parts of Cheshire and Middletown.
"I've been working very, very hard..." Suzio said. "It's nice to know that I'll be serving the same people."
The Reapportionment Commission’s redistricting proposals will go to the Secretary of the State for approval.
Street level maps for new district aren't available yet, according to House Press Secretary Larry Perosino.
For current Senate Districts, see here.
For current House Districts, see here.