LETTER: Partisan RTM Vote

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor:

A bipartisan redistricting committee undertook the task last year of drawing new RTM districts, managing to accomplish their goal in a reasoned and thoughtful manner free of politics and producing results that were in the best interest of the town, not favoring either party in outcome. In contrast, the same effort failed the previous year due to contentious and ultimately illegal action taken by the majority on the RTM. This hard won bipartisan spirit has now been tarnished with a partisan RTM vote by the Republican majority to create an electoral advantage in the newly drawn District 2.

According to CT General Statute 9-168b, when written opinion of the Registrars finds that a district lacks an existing convenient or suitable polling place within the lines of the district, it necessitates the designation of a polling place in an adjacent district. The failure of the Town Registrars to agree upon the polling locations for 4 of the 10 districts made it necessary for the RTM to vote on the two proposed locations, with each disputed district containing a recommendation by the respective Town Registrar.

The proposed locations in this district were North Stratfield School, which is a town owned building and falls within the district boundaries, and St. Pius X church, which is a private building situated outside the district.

The more convenient of the two from the standpoint of proximity to the majority of constituents favored North Stratfield School. According to the Town Attorney making use of a municipal building limits risk, regardless of location within a district, while private property exposes the town to possible liability. Further, the barter arrangement in place for the use of St. Pius X puts the town in a dangerous and potentially compromising position. In addition, North Stratfield School will be open for every election, something that cannot be guaranteed for a polling place on private property. Access to polls free of charge to taxpayers is a fundamental right and essential to free and fair elections while preventing any possible disenfranchisement.

The Republican Registrar explained in his presentation to the joint meeting of RTM subcommittees that his recommendation for using St. Pius X had been made after consultation with RTC leadership. No such discussion took place between the Democratic Registrar and DTC leadership in order to avoid politicizing the matter and creating a conflict of interest. In three of the four districts in dispute, the Democrats voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of the Republican Registrar.

The decision by the Republican RTM representatives to support St. Pius X was inconsistent, illogical and risky, and puts politics above the best interests of the town and its citizens. In no way did they demonstrate that North Stratfield School was unsuitable in any material way, possibly running afoul of the law. Most distressingly, the decision puts aside any recent gains made toward bipartisanship, leaving the citizens in this town with a clear picture of the Republicans’ true nature and motivation.

Elizabeth Zezima

RTM District 6

Fairfield

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