ELLSWORTH — A state commission has finished its work debating and negotiating on election redistricting in Maine. Now all that is left is for the legislature to approve the new maps.
Legislators convened in a special session Wednesday.
“Unlike many other states, Maine requires a two-thirds vote to approve reapportionment,” state Sen. Louie Luchini (D-Hancock County) noted. “In my view, this is a positive measure to prevent party-line gerrymandering.”
Republicans and Democrats worked with recommendations from the Apportionment Commission and state law on reapportionment to come up with new districts for the House and Senate.
Redistricting is completed every 10 years based on the latest U.S. Census figures, and several Hancock County towns moved into new districts based on the county’s population growth over the past decade.
“Because Washington County’s population has decreased, that district will pick up more towns in eastern Hancock County,” Luchini noted.
Senate District 6 has been apportioned to Hancock County where formerly it was all Washington County towns except for Sullivan and Gouldsboro. In 2022, Senate District 6 will consist of Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Franklin, Gouldsboro, Great Pond, Hancock, Mariaville, Osborn, Sorrento, Sullivan, Waltham, Winter Harbor and the unorganized territories of Central Hancock, East Hancock and Northwest Hancock. Those towns, except for Sullivan and Gouldsboro, will move from current District 7.
The new District 7 adds Isle au Haut, in Knox County, and Castine to the towns of Blue Hill, Brooklin, Brooksville, Cranberry Isles, Deer Isle, Ellsworth, Frenchboro, Lamoine, Marshall Island Unorganized Territories, Mount Desert, Orland, Penobscot, Sedgwick, Southwest Harbor, Stonington, Surry, Swan’s Island, Tremont, Trenton and Verona Island.
Bucksport was moved from District 8 to Senate District 10 with former District 8 towns Dedham and Eddington, plus nine Penobscot County towns, including Brewer, Hampden and Holden. Former District 8 town Great Pond and the Northwest Hancock Unorganized Territory ended up in District 6, and Penobscot and Verona Island landed in District 7.
The state’s House districts also have been reworked.
“When they start making the districts, they start from the northern and southern part of the state, to start,” said state Rep. Sherman Hutchins (R-Penobscot). “The nearer you get to the middle of the state, the more complicated it becomes.”
He pointed to the “fairly strict guidelines” used in creating workable districts, such as about 9,000 in population, neighboring towns and, unofficially, not creating a district where two incumbents would have to contest a primary election.
“I don’t expect there will be a lot of arguments on the districts,” Hutchins said. “This [apportionment] commission has been working on it all summer, with a number of people’s help.”
But House District 132 Rep. Nicole Grohoski, representing Ellsworth and Trenton, which would be split into separate districts under the proposed map, plans to raise her constituents concerns in Wednesday’s legislative session.
“In the proposed map, Trenton has been separated from its communities of interest on the mainland and MDI,” she told The American. “Many Trenton residents have shared their objections with me, and I will represent their concerns to the full House.”
House Districts 131st Legislature
11 – Addison, Beals, Columbia, Columbia Falls, Harrington, Jonesboro, Jonesport, Machias, Milbridge, Roque Bluffs, Whitneyville, Part of North Washington unorganized territory
12 – Franklin, Gouldsboro, Hancock, Sorrento, Winter Harbor, Cherryfield, Steuben
13 – Ellsworth and Waltham
14 – Bar Harbor, Lamoine, Mount Desert, Cranberry Isles
15 – Brooklin, Deer Isle, Frenchboro, Southwest Harbor, Stonington, Swan’s Island, Tremont, Isle au Haut, Vinalhaven
16 – Blue Hill, Brooksville, Castine, Sedgwick, Surry, Trenton
17 – Bucksport, Orland, Penobscot, Verona Island
18 – Amherst, Aurora, Dedham, Eastbrook, Great Pond, Mariaville, Osborn, Otis, Sullivan, Beddington, Deblois, Part North Washington unorganized territory, Burlington, Clifton, East Central Penobscot, Greenbush, Lowell, Passadumkeag.