Winslow's rural areas growing steadily

Morning Sentinel (Waterville, ME) - Thursday, October 25, 2001
Author: DOUG HARLOW, Staff Writer

WINSLOW - The redistricting of voting precincts in Winslow's five election districts indicates steady growth over the last 20 years from intown residences to the community's rural areas, officials said Wednesday. 

The revised districts were hammered out last month by a six-member committee headed up by Town Clerk Elizabeth A. Furman. 

The object, according to Furman and Town Manager Edward A. Gagnon, was to adjust district lines, so all voters in the community are equally represented. 

"If you looked at the raw numbers, we were getting away from the one-man, one-vote rule, which is the basis of democracy," Gagnon said. 

"We want to treat everyone equally. Some districts became out of whack, so we are redrawing the lines." 

Furman said she and her committee used Microsoft Access, a database software program to crunch all the numbers. She said she found boundary lines for voting districts sometimes split streets right down the middle. 

"We tried to take the natural boundaries, to make the roads and the rivers and streams the dividing line," Furman said. Now, she said, China Road and Clinton Avenue act as boundary lines. 

The new voting districts are proposed as follows. 

District 1: From the Vassalboro and China town lines, north to the China Road and Carter Memorial Drive. The Kennebec River is the boundary on the west side. 

District 2: From Carter Memorial Drive to Outlet Stream as the eastern boundary, then from the Sebasticook River to the Kennebec River on the west. 

District 3: From the point where the Sebasticook River meets the Kennebec River, north to Clinton Avenue and out to Halifax Street and Outer Clinton Avenue. 

District 4: From Clinton Avenue north along the Kennebec River to the west and Outer Clinton Avenue to the east to the Benton town line. 

District 5: From Clinton Avenue to the Benton, China and Albion town lines, south to the China Road and Outlet Stream. 

Gagnon said the town was divided into five voting districts in 1977. The measure took effect the following year. 

Before then, he said, the entire town voted as one at-large district. 

With five members of the seven-member Town Council living near one another on Sand Hill in the early 1970s, voters living in rural parts of town felt they had no voice on the council, Gagnon said. 

The new voting districts were reexamined after the 1980 census, and again after the 1990 figures were released. But it was reading the 2000 census results that prompted the formation of the Districting Committee this year. 

"The rural districts grew and the intown (population) got smaller," Gagnon said. "The job of the committee was to balance the districts again." 

Committee members were Furman, Roberta Dumont, Judy Ellis, Joseph Marcoux, Mira Mette and Kenneth Fletcher, chairman. 

Furman said a first reading of the changes is scheduled for the Town Council meeting Nov. 13, so it will not affect the Nov. 6 elections this year. A second and final reading is set for December. 

If approved, the changes would begin Jan. 1 and will be staggered over three years, district by district, to be in line with new staggered terms of Town Council members.