Redistricting shakes up local borders

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This map shows the new borders for the state House Districts 70 and 131 in Naugatuck. CONTRIBUTED

Minor changes to state House Districts 70 and 131 will mean some Naugatuck residents will have new representatives in Hartford.

State legislators agreed to a new state House district map Wednesday night, which will go into effect after the 2012 state and federal election. New districts are carved up by a legislative committee every 10 years to reflect the new census figures.

Currently, Republican state Rep. Rosa Rebimbas represents the 70th District, which covers northeastern Naugatuck and Republican state Rep. David Labriola holds the 131st District, which covers all of Oxford, part of Southbury, and the southwestern part of Naugatuck.

The 70th District was 900 people under a census-based target for how many people each district should have, while the 131st District was slightly over. Accordingly, the 70th District gained some streets in the borough while the 131st gave up a few.

The biggest changes made to the 70th District come in the northwestern corner of Naugatuck. The district’s borders now extend to Heritage Drive, Kruder Road, and Webb Road. The neighborhoods around Evelyn Drive and Farmstep Lane will now be part of the 70th District.

The 70th District lost a small area near Easy Street to the 131st District, as well as a small portion in central Naugatuck in the neighborhoods surrounding Aetna St and around Summerfield Street near the Beacon Falls border.

Although Rebimbas ended up loosing some of her current constituents, she said she still plans to serve them.

“Whatever we do, we do for all the people of Naugatuck,” she said.

She said it was important to inform residents as to which district they’re in so they know who to vote for in the next election.

Rebimbas said she didn’t think the new lines would make a difference in her electability or the issues she digs into, and added she was glad the legislature could reach an agreement before the Wednesday deadline.

“Anytime they do their due diligence before the deadline, it’s actually a good thing,” Rebimbas said.

She said drawing the new maps is one of the most important things the legislature does.

“Representation in Hartford should reflect population of those towns,” Rebimbas said.

According to Labriola, Oxford was the fastest-growing community in the state, adding 4,000 new citizens in the last 10 years.

In order to meet the constitutional guidelines, the 131st District shrunk by 400 people in Southbury and about 800 in Naugatuck.

“I was born and raised in Naugatuck and when I work in Hartford on behalf of the people in Naugatuck, I don’t think of myself as only representing 30 percent of Naugatuck but rather I work for the benefit of the whole town,” Labriola said.

He added that he works closely with Rebimbas. The two representatives recently worked in conjunction with Naugatuck Mayor Robert Mezzo and the Board of Mayor and Burgesses to secure a grant for the design and planning of the parking garage planned on Parcel C.

Labriola felt the new map will create greater parity between the Republican and Democrat parties. He said the current districts give Democrats a disproportionate amount of power.

“One-party dominance is unhealthy,” Labriola said.

Beacon Falls will remain in the 105th District along with Seymour. But those towns will be grouped with part of Derby instead of Ansonia.

“I’m sad to see I’m loosing Ansonia. I have a pretty good relationship with a lot of constituents there,” said Republican state Rep. Len Greene, the current representative for Beacon Falls and the 105th District.

However, he said, he was excited to pick up Derby, where his mother grew up.

The 105th District had about 1,000 too many residents, according to census targets.

Now, Derby will be split between three districts, while Ansonia will be condensed into one.

“That’s the trouble with redistricting. You can’t change one piece of the puzzle without changing the rest of the board,” Greene said.

Greene said it’s difficult to come up with a clean compromise when it comes to different towns.

Prospect will remain in the 80th District, which also covers Bethany and a south-western portion of Cheshire. Democrat state Rep. Vickie Nardello currently holds the seat.

Nardello could not be reached for comment as of this post.

View larger maps of the redistricted state House and Senate districts here.