Around the Region

Reapportionment changes Penquis Maine House and Senate districts

By Mike Lange
Staff Writer

    AUGUSTA — The 15-member Maine Legislative Redistricting Commission finished their work on May 31, and now it’s in the hands of the full Legislature for final approval in time for the 2014 elections.

    Reapportionment of Maine’s legislative districts is required every 10 years because of population shifts, although the commission has broad leeway on how some boundaries are drawn.
    According to published reports, there was little or no dissention on the committee even though all of Maine’s 151 House and 35 Senate Districts will be altered in some way.
    Many voters in Piscataquis and western Penobscot counties will be represented by new lawmakers and all voters in the state will have to deal with new district numbers.
    “Every 10 years, they reverse the starting points for numbering. This time, it starts in the north for the Senate and in the south for the House. My district number changes from 33 to 10,” Sen. Andre Cushing of Hampden said.
    Cushing said that due to population changes and growth in Hampden, Glenburn and Levant, he is slated to lose Dexter, Garland and Charleston and pick up Hudson in his district. “Basically, I’d be down to 15 communities instead of 17,” Cushing said.
    For State Sen. Doug Thomas of Ripley, the proposed changes would cut down the geographical size of his Senate district considerably. “Senate District 27 loses all of Northern Penobscot County including Millinocket, Chester, Patten, etc. There are actually two plans. One would add Athens, Brighton, Detroit, Dexter, Garland, Charleston, Bradford, Alton and Lagrange. The other plan had Dexter, Corinna, Pittsfield, Canaan and Detroit added to this District,” Thomas said.
    State Rep. Peter Johnson of Greenville said that he has only had a brief look at the new maps. “But my district does have some changes. I do know Sangerville has been added and Cambridge and Brownville are moved out. This puts (Rep.) Paul Davis and me in the same district and compresses it geographically, which is a good thing. But I’m termed out, so I cannot run in the next election, anyway,” said the Republican lawmaker.
    Davis is no stranger to Johnson’s District 27 since it was part of his Senate district where he served for eight years before his election to the House. But Davis, who is in his third term, said that it’s way too early to decide his political future.
    “I haven’t made my mind up about running again. But if I do, I’ll run to win,” Davis said. “My constituents know I return their phone calls and do my homework. Pete (Johnson) has done a great job up there.”
    Cambridge would become part of House District 28 currently represented by Rep. Dean Cray of Palmyra.
    Brownville would be part of the “new” District 120 – formerly 26 – along with Atkinson, Dover-Foxcroft, Medford, Milo, Lake View Plantation and Orneville. The loss of Sangerville in the district automatically means that two new House candidates will run in the 2014 election.
    In the Dexter area, House District 24, represented by Rep. Ray Wallace, now consists of Athens, Charleston, Dexter, Garland, Harmony and Ripley. Under the new plan, Wallace would lose Athens, Harmony and Ripley and gain Exeter and Stetson.

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