The New Haven City Council is currently in the final steps of changing the boundaries for district representation. If all goes as expected, the changes should be finalized in September. This is the usual process of altering boundaries based on population changes within the city
from the recent census. There is a minor change taking place that was unexpected to me. My neighborhood has been shifted from district #2 to district #1. It was unexpected because my voting precinct as defined by the Allen County Election Board (ACEB) contains more than just my neighborhood. Precinct NH2A is recommended to be split. Under existing boundaries, NH2A essentially runs from Rose Ave on the north, Adams Township line to the east, east side of Green St. on the west, and the north side of Berwick on the south (Tanglewood and the northern portion of Highland Terrace). The change will move everything north of Summit St into the first council district.
When looking at the newly proposed map, it creates a district #1 that contains the northern part of the city from west city to east city limit and north to Shordon. This seems somewhat of an awkward shaped district – especially compared to the compactness of the
other four districts. The process to change boundaries was carried out – not by the council members themselves – but by the mayor’s planning director. Why should the mayor be involved with the council district changes?

The proposed changes could potentially have impact on the upcoming November election. When I questioned the council, mayor, and city attorney when this change would go into effect, they hesitantly said the start of 2013. Yet the ordinance says it will take effect upon
passage by council. In other words, “Trust us to implement this ordinance at the correct time.” I have learned never to trust an elected official that says, “Trust me.” The implications could include voters in the current NH2A having different ballots based upon their address. This means that the ACEB would need to create separate ballots for a split precinct. Can you imagine the confusion this could create? Voters entering the polling location expecting one ballot, but presented with potentially an unexpected ballot? Also, current
political party precinct representatives can be eliminated out of their elected positions. (Which takes place in this ordinance.)

For disclosure, I was a candidate for New Haven city council district #2 in May of 2011. I was defeated by the incumbent. The incumbent will remain in the “new” district #2. I ask the council to take control of this ordinance by clarifying the date of effect and cleaning up errors in the ordinance prior to its passage.

Steve Gordon

POSTED: 08/29/12 at 10:15 pm. FILED UNDER: Opinions