Changes Proposed for Charlotte’s Senatorial Representation

If the proposal by the Legislative Apportionment Board (LAB) gains final approval by the legislature in 2012, Charlotte will become part of the Addison County Senate district.  In fact, the six member Chittenden County Senate district will be broken into four Senate districts with two members each. 

This Chittenden County senatorial district is currently the largest in the state, and the idea of breaking it up into several smaller districts had been discussed in earlier reapportionments.  Political considerations never allowed such a breakup to get past the discussion stage.  However, population changes in the last decade have renewed interest in breaking Chittenden County into several more manageable districts. 

The 2010 Census counted 625,741 people living in Vermont, and since there are 30 senators, this means each senator should “ideally” represent 20,858 residents.  According to LAB Chair Tom Little, “The Vermont Constitution also directs that in setting the Senate district lines we should adhere to county boundaries.  (Yet Washington and Windsor Counties are the only Senate districts where the county lines and the district lines are the same.)”  Furthermore, the increase in the population of Chittenden County would add one more member to the district. 

The Chittenden County town of Colchester is presently part of the Grand Isle senatorial district which has one senator, Dick Mazza.  Included in the LAB proposal is expansion of the Grand Isle Chittenden district to include Milton and Georgia (Franklin County) to make a two member district.  The Chittenden Central senatorial district would consist of the city of Burlington; the Chittenden West senatorial district would include Winooski, South Burlington, Shelburne, Williston and Saint George; and the Chittenden East senatorial district would include Westford, Essex, Underhill, Jericho, Richmond, Bolton, Hinesburg and Huntington.  Each would be a two member district. 

So, how did Charlotte end up in the Addison County senatorial district?  Little said that various configurations were considered such as moving Bolton into the Washington County district or putting Hinesburg with Addison.  However, in order to satisfy the criterion for maximum deviations from the ideal population size, putting Charlotte into the Addison district seemed to make the most sense to the LAB members.

It is worth noting that two other minority configurations were proposed to the LAB, one by Progressive Party member Meg Brook, who proposed eleven large districts, and one by Republican Neil Lunderville, who proposed 30 single member districts.  The proposal approved by the LAB on a 4-2 vote consists of 16 mostly two member districts.

The final redistricting proposals for both the House and Senate have been delivered to the respective House and Senate committees, which will begin reviewing them in September.  Those committees will approve or modify the proposals.  The Senate will have the final say on its redistricting proposal.  However, any committee modifications to the House redistricting plan will get one more review by affected Boards of Civil Authority which, with some restrictions, will have the final say.  As I wrote in my June report, Charlotte will retain its single House seat and will be a district unto itself.  The two slices of Hinesburg that are currently part of the district will be rejoined to the Hinesburg district. 

More information, maps and details can be had at the LAB’s website: