Former state auditor picked to break ties on state Reapportionment Commission

A former state auditor has been appointed to help Democratic and Republican leaders reach agreement on the state’s new boundary lines for Connecticut’s 187 General Assembly seats and five congressional districts — his second consecutive time in the rare post.

The state Reapportionment Commission picked Kevin Johnston of Pomfret, who prior to his 18 years auditing state agencies served as a Democratic member of the state House of Representatives, as the ninth member with little discussion on Tuesday during a 7-minute meeting.

The commission is charged with redrawing lines in state House, state Senate and U.S. House districts to match new Census maps. The once-in-10-year task can be marked by horse-trading as each party hopes to gain an advantage of registered voters in key dustricts.

Johnston served the same role in 2011, but his vote wasn’t needed, as lawmakers agreed on the boundaries that get updated every 10 years. That fits with an unwritten rule, commission members includung House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said. Although the ninth member is seated to break ties, the goal is for that member to refrain from voting.

The co-chairmen of the commission will be Ritter and Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford.

The commission was recently constituted after the expiration of a similar, eight-member panel called the Reapportionment Committee of the legislature, which was hindered by delays in the 2020 U.S. Census. Both groups had a tight deadline to draw the new maps by the end of November or send the entire process to the state Supreme Court.

Commission members stressed that it is their constitutional duty to redraw the state political map, and the goal is to keep the issue out of the Court.

Because of a slight increase in population and a general shifting of the state population toward the west, especially on Stamford, now the state’s second-largest city, the new district maps have to be adjusted for the 36 Senate seats and 151 House districts as well as a new alignment of the state’s five Congressional districts.

The committee had a series of public hearings around the state, seeking testimony on what district maps will look like heading into the 2022 elections.