The Shelburne Board of Civil Authority met Nov. 1 to discuss reapportionment at length for Chittenden House districts 5-1 and 5-2. The residents of both districts had until Nov. 15 to voice their opinions about the proposal for reapportionment made by the Legislative Apportionment Board.
According to the Vermont law, reapportionment of district boundary lines is considered every 10 years due to the updated population census. The purpose of revisiting these lines is to ensure that there is equal representation of Vermont residents in each district.
The reapportionment board must look at each House district in the state and verify whether its boundaries are appropriate. The ideal population for each district is 4,287 people for a single-member district and 8,574 for a two-member district.
Shelburne has two one-member districts. There are times when the population may exceed or be lower than the ideal size. Historically, deviations from the ideal size have been accepted and there is currently no specific requirement to remain within a certain population size from the ideal.
The Legislative Apportionment Board has justified its proposal with “making districts more compact,” and it is said that none of the members of board has any personal vested interest in this proposal.
Legislative Apportionment Board, in summary, has proposed line changes to include:
• Route 7 eastside would be Chittenden 5-2;
• Route 7 westside would be Chittenden 5-1;
• Northern portion of Marsett Road would be Chittenden 5-2;
• Southern portion of Marsett Road would be Chittenden 5-1; and
• Northern portion of Executive Drive would be Chittenden 5-1.
Current population deviations between the districts as they exist now is 11 — Chittenden 5-1 is 4,261, and Chittenden 5-2 is 4,250.
Under the proposed districts, the deviation is 53. The proposed Chittenden 5-1 district population would be 4,282, and Chittenden 5-2 is 4,229.
Both Rep. Kate Webb, Chittenden 5-1, and Rep. Jessica Brumsted, Chittenden 5-2, were present at the board of civil authority meeting and said they are in favor of preserving current district boundaries and opposed the apportionment board’s proposed district line changes.
Both representatives said they preferred natural boundary lines over man-made ones like highways and roadways. Further, they believe it would be confusing to make line changes at this time. Both agree that the village of Shelburne should not be divided, especially with elections coming up.
They said it was important for Shelburne residents to know who is representing them and that current lines further a sense of trust during elections.
After deliberations, the Shelburne Board of Civil Authority voted to oppose the apportionment board’s proposal by an overwhelming majority.
It prefers the village, lakefront and current boundary lines remain unchanged, with preference of the use of natural boundaries and historic patterns for preserving communities rather than using roadways to establish House districts for its residents.
The portion of St. George that resides in Chittenden 5-2 would not see any representative changes to its boundary lines if the proposed changes are affirmed.
The board of civil authority in Shelburne will formally craft a response to the Legislative Apportionment Board stating its opposition to the proposed changes to Chittenden 5-1 and Chittenden 5-2 House districts.
This guest perspective was written by Genna Barnaby of Colchester, and Susan Bowen, who is a member of the board of civil authority in Shelburne.