State Rep. Matt Lesser, a Democrat who represents the 100th House District that currently encompasses Durham, Middlefield, and Middletown, said the loss of Durham to the 101st House District is "wrenching."
Likewise, State Rep. Noreen Kokoruda, a Republican who represents the 101st House District that currently encompasses part of North Guilford and Madison, said she is sad to be losing North Guilford to State Rep. Vincent Candelora, a Republican and deputy Republican leader, who represents the district that will be getting the other half of Durham.
Both Kokoruda and Lesser said they will be working together, along with Candelora, to ensure a smooth transition. The changes, if approved by the Secretary of State as expected, will take place as of the November 2012 election cycle.
Kokoruda says she's familiar with Durham
If she's re-elected, Kokoruda said she's confident she will be able to effectively represent Durham. She said she's familiar with the town and has many friends there.
"I don’t know a lot about my new redistricting, because we just got the information ourselves," she said Thursday. " I love North Guilford, and I'll be sad to be losing them. But I also love Durham and have a lot of friends in those towns."
Kokoruda said she plans to find out more about the section of Durham she would represent if she's re-elected, but she also said she thinks the towns of Madison, Durham, and Guilford face similar issues.
Not a done deal until Wednesday, still a lot to find out
"There is still a lot I have to find out. I need a list of streets and more information. This was not a done deal until yesterday," Kokoruda said of the redistricting, which is done in Connecticut by the General Assembly every ten years following the decennial federal census.
The goal of the redistricting is to ensure districts have approximately equal populations so that all votes have equal importance. In the case of the House of Representatives, the ideal population will be 23,670.
Kokoruda said the 101st used to include all of Madison, all of Killingworth, and a little bit of Clinton. Then, during the last re-districting, it was changed to all of Madison and part of North Guilford. "So I'm picking up Durham," Kokoruda said. "Durham is a fabulosu place. I have many friends there and it is one of the most charming townsin the state. It will be fun to share a town with Vinny Candelora."
Hates to see towns split up
Kokoruda said she's confident she could work effectively with Candelora to represent Durham, but she added that she hates to see towns split up. "Durham is going to be split. I hate to see town's split, but maybe there's no other way to do it. Madison is lucky we're not being split," she said. "Durham and North madison are neighbors. I can't see where it would be that much different. I'm sure there will be separate issues, which I will have to learn about."
"The towns, whether it be Madison or Guilford of Durham, will expect the best educational systems, great service, and they want their towns to retain their local charm," Kokoruda said.
Lesser agreed with that assessment and added there are several other issues of importance to people in Durham as well.
Contaminated wells, farmland and open space, and quality of life are issues in Durham
"There's a need for a water plan to cover contaminated wells," he said. "That's a major issue. Anything affecting farmland and open space, that's always an important issue. And, of course, protecting the quality of life and institutions like the Durham Fair are important."
He said he is going to miss representing Durham. "I fell in love with the town and hope the next representative who will have the priveldge of representing it will love it as much as I do," he said. He said he would be more than happy to meet with Kokoruda and Candelora to talk about issues of importance to the town.
"The changes go into effect for the next election. The legislature opts in in November 2012, so whoever is elected in that election will then represent the new district in January 2013. So I will continue to represent the town for the next 16 months."
Approval from Secretary of State needed before changes final
The Reapportionment Commission unanimously approved both redistricting proposals, which now must go to the Secretary of the State for her approval before they go into effect. The new districts, if approved by the secretary, would be in place for the 2012 General Assembly election cycle.
The commission, which was facing a deadline Wednesday to approve the redistricting proposals, was unable to reach consensus on a plan to redraw Connecticut’s congressional district lines. Under state law, the panel must now ask the Connecticut Supreme Court for a 30-day extension to draft and approve a plan.
The nine-member commission began work on redrawing the House and Senate districts in April after it was appointed by the legislature.
Changes in most recent census taken into account
Connecticut law requires that the districts be studied and, if necessary, their lines be redrawn if necessary, following each federal census.
The most recent census was conducted in 2010 and showed that Connecticut’s population grew by nearly 5 percent to about 3.6 million people.