Rep. Lemar, Say Hi To East Haven

Paul Bass PhotoMelissa Bailey PhotoOn the wings of a new “butterfly” of a district, East Rock’s freshman state legislator Roland Lemar found himself exploring new political terrain Thursday—in the northern reaches of East Haven. Newhallville’s Gary Holder-WInfield, meanwhile, will be getting to know some folks in Hamden.

Lemar jumped in his car Thursday to get to know the new 96th General Assembly District, which legislative leaders have dramatically redrawn in the statewide redistricting that just wrapped up in the Capitol.

Lemar’s district, which had straddled New Haven and Hamden, will now be split between New Haven and East Haven.

It’s one of a couple of major changes to the General Assembly districts that cover New Haven. Click to compare the old map to the new one.

State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield’s 94th District is currently contained within New Haven’s borders. Starting next year, he’ll be half in Hamden and half in New Haven. Holder-Winfield said he’s not happy about the change.

In another boundary shift, New Haven’s delegation in Hartford will include a new face. West Haven’s State Rep. Louis Esposito Jr. has picked up a small piece of the Hill—now held by State Rep. Juan Candelaria—to add to his 116th District. Esposito couldn’t be reached for comment.

Other New Haven General Assembly and State Senate districts remain largely unchanged. State Sen. Martin Looney added a small part of North Haven to his senate district, which previously comprised only parts of New Haven and Hamden.

Click here for the new statewide House map, and here for the Senate map.

The new boundaries will go into effect when representatives are sworn in for the term starting in 2013. That means that State Rep. Lemar, for example, will not start representing East Haven for more than a year, but will have to campaign there to be re-elected to the 96th District seat.

The new 96th District will include part of downtown New Haven that now belongs to Holder-Winfield’s 94th. It’s hard to imagine that his new district goes from 360 State and the New Haven Green to the border of North Branford, Lemar said.

Lemar said he first saw the shape of his destiny Wednesday night.

“It is certainly artistic,” he said of the new shape. “People keep telling me it’s the most absurd-looking district they see across the state.”

Lemar said his first reaction was bemusement. “I think I had a bewildered smirk on my face.”

Some people have described the shape to Lemar as a “butterfly,” he said. Someone said it looks like the arms of someone running, without a head or body.

Someone also suggested that the only way to get from one end of the district to the other would be to hike through the woods. Not true, Lemar said. There are at least two roads that allow for a trans-district voyage.

Lemar said it will be a challenge to introduce himself all over again to a new set of constituents in the new 96th. “Today I spent some time driving it, trying to figure out the best way to make connections,” Lemar said. He made a few “random stop-ins” to say hi to people, including in the parking lot of John and Maria’s Pizzeria in East Haven.

Lemar said that despite the new boundaries of his political territory, he’s found that people’s concerns are the same: jobs, kids, schools, health care, neighborhoods, and having a good future.

Holder-Winfield was not as sanguine about his new district, which is now split between Hamden and New Haven. “I’m not happy with that,” he said. “I’m used to the district I have. I know the people I have.”

“Fifty-50 is a huge change,” he said. “I’ll work with it of course. My initial reaction is I’m not happy.”

Holder-Winfield said he was not expecting to take over part of Hamden, and certainly not to have his district split half and half.

Holder-Winfield said he doesn’t think the demographics of his new district are wildly different than those in his current one, which largely comprises Newhallville. But the new map does make it less likely that a minority candidate could win in Hamden’s 91st District, currently held by State Rep. Peter Villano.


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posted by: anon on December 2, 2011  12:38pm

In Connecticut, the average white family has a net worth of approximately $200,000 while the average minority family has a net worth of about $3,000.

The state’s strategy is to concentrate minorities and urban residents into ghettos (I mean districts), so that they have less political power. 

This way we can continue to give huge subsidies to the richest families, while taxing the clothes off the backs of the poor. 

After the new redistricting plan is implemented, common sense proposals such as EITC and early childhood education can be rolled back by the new power structure, so that suburban districts like Villano’s can build bigger houses and roads.

posted by: robn on December 2, 2011  12:49pm

Rolands District looks a bit like a salamander.

This district drawing technique was developed by Elbridge Gerry (1744–1814).

posted by: Bradley & State St. on December 2, 2011  1:12pm

Lemar grew on me as an Alderman, I’m now a big fan of his work as State Rep., but something tells me that uber-liberal Lemar is not going to be too popular in North Branford.Lemar’s new district is curently represented by one of the most conservative republican members of the House, Vincent Candelora.“Absurd” is right.That is a district that Lemar likely won’t lose given its East Rock base, but he won’t have much fun representing it.

posted by: quick thought on December 2, 2011  1:40pm

It does make you wonder why two young, rising star type Democrats were run over in this process? Stepping on too-many toes? I speak with political folks across the and everyone, EVERYONE thinks that Holder and Lemar are going to be very successful in Hartford and key players in the very near future.  Did they ruffle some feathers?

posted by: robn on December 2, 2011  1:45pm


Here is primer quiz for your journey into East Haven. Answers below…

1) What is the proper pronunciation of East Haven?
3) If someone offers you Gabagool or Brashooot, what is it they are offering?
2) If someone calls you a cucuzz or a mammalook, do you…
a) …stare at them quizzically.
b) …politely thank them.
c) …cup the palm of your hand at your neck and flick your four fingers outward towards the person.

1) “Staven”
2) “Capicola” is Italian pork salami. Prosciutto is Italian cured ham.
3) c

Good Luck!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 2, 2011  2:06pm

This is why I keep saying.If you had proportional representation you would not have this problem.

posted by: @ quick thought on December 2, 2011  2:50pm

(1) Seniority.  Legislative bodies are less about how smart you are, more about how long you’ve been around.  It would have looked very different if Bill Dyson and Cam Staples were still around (not that they weren’t smart, but they also had seniority).

(2) A lot of assembly members in the 5th CD (who will be figuring who they will be endorsing for congress over the next few months) needed to be made happy.  And you can’t make everyone happy.

posted by: Anderson Scooper on December 2, 2011  3:24pm

If New Haven voters make up at least two-thirds of Gary and Roland’s new districts, no big deal. But if the ratio is more like 50/50, their political lives just got that much harder, with the prospect of the other town in each district making a play for the seat. (does anyone have the data?)

In any case, I suspect the powers that be considered the 93rd and 96th to belong safely to New Haven, and just did the ugly gerrymandering to solve other purposes.

posted by: cedarhillresident on December 2, 2011  3:37pm

robn you kill me. I think we will have to help Roland a bit in the stave territory

posted by: East Rocker on December 2, 2011  4:15pm

This is great news.  For those who want to ignore and disrespect the understandable wishes of Dr.Petit, maybe your job just got harder. 

And for hard-working East Haveners and North Branfordites please ask Rep. Lemar to explain what “EITC” means.  If he is honest with you, he will tell you that he wants to take money directly out of your pocket and give it to someone else who HE thinks deserves it more. 

You might then respond by thanking him very much for his concern for others, but that you are perfectly capable of making your own charitable decisions and that you prefer to give your hard-earned money to the local soup kitchen, or homeless shelter, or ANY OTHER PLACE THAT YOU CHOOSE.

What do these guys have in common?  They want to substitute their morality for yours.

posted by: anon on December 2, 2011  4:44pm

Anderson - Redistricting files are free and available for download online.

posted by: robn on December 2, 2011  5:19pm



To those who want maps….

posted by: Leon on December 2, 2011  7:26pm

I don’t think that the redistricting of Hamden’s 91st district makes it less likely that a minority could win.  Look at the demographics of Hamden - only approximately 16 percent African American but has an African American Mayor who won big in his first term and won an even bigger margin of victory last November.  My guess is, at least as far as Hamden is concerned, that it is the quality of the candidate rather than the race or ethnicity that would be the deciding factor. 

If, for example, Holder-Winfield moved into the 91st district of Hamden and Villano retired, I would bet he would win because he is a responsive and engaged legislator.

posted by: Brian M. on December 2, 2011  8:04pm

Why does the NHI and its commenters care about the demographics of the 91st district, when 91% of the time they do nothing but slam Hamden and everyone who lives there.

Just asking.

posted by: another Bradley Streeet resident on December 2, 2011  9:16pm

@Bradley and State

As the article states, Roland is picking up part of of East Haven, not North Haven - big difference politically and demographically.

posted by: lance on December 2, 2011  11:13pm

robn, do you have any whitty advice for someone attempting to communicate with and understand the culture of newhallville residents?

posted by: staple singers on December 3, 2011  8:10am

I’m certain that both of these Rep’s are from the Hartford area.Definitely Lemar as he Has lived down here since ‘99 or 2000,making him a long term transplant,his connections are up there,possibly his heart too,oh he’ll tell you how he loves it down here,i suppose ,he has a good paying job with perks.Yale pushed him down peoples throats.
Not too sure about Gary Hartford Winfield,i wouldn’t doubt it

posted by: robn on December 3, 2011  8:31am


I have a feeling you meant to write either “witty” or “whitey”; either way the answer is no.

posted by: Leon on December 3, 2011  9:25am

@ Brian:  I hope you don’t think that I was slamming Hamden.  I live in the 91st district, love Hamden and wanted to point out the inconsistencies in the comments regarding who could get elected here. 

I do agree that sometimes the NHI and some people commenting seem to often slam Hamden.  Just like many people in the suburbs who have simplistic and negative assumptions and make sweeping generalizations about New Haven, there are just as many in New Haven who do the same thing with the suburbs. 

By pointing out that their assumptions are often wrong, I was hoping to challenge people to change their thinking.  I try to do the same thing when I hear people from the suburbs make uninformed generalizations about New Haven. 

@ anon -  you assume that everyone who lives in the 91st district is white and wealthy.  Many of us are not.  You also assume white wealthy people and all others who live in the 91st district do not support things programs such as EITC and early childhood education programs.   

You might want to reconsider these assumptions.  Did you know, for example, that a staff member from ConnCAN (who are wonderful advocates for improvements in education including taking steps to close achievement gaps) was just elected to our legislative council? 

The fact of the matter is that we have to start looking beyond “district” lines, town borders, etc. and realize that we all face problems and have concerns that are interconnected.  As New Haven goes so goes Hamden, North Haven , etc. etc.  Likewise as North Haven, Hamden etc. goes, so does New Haven.

posted by: Stephen Harris on December 3, 2011  9:55am

It’s good to see Gerrymandering is alive and well! The good news is that it’s the northern-most slice of [East Haven] and not the heart of the beast.

Good luck Roland. ...

posted by: Brian M. on December 3, 2011  10:59am


Thanks for clarifying. I think you’re right about people on here not knowing what they’re talking about when it comes to suburban towns. The idea that the 91st district is a mini-Greenwich is just absurd.

I suppose there’s alot of anti-city rhetoric in the suburbs, but I don’t see how launching equally ignorant rants in response to almost *every single story* on here is supposed to be some kind of corrective. It’s become a self-parody. Totally predictable.

I just don’t understand why it’s impossible for commenters like anon to just get in a car or on a bike or on foot and take a walk before they make stuff up about neighborhoods that are a stone’s throw away from the city. As it is, they make it sound like the town is Selma circa 1951.

Also from the Dept. of Making Stuff Up is staplessingers saying Gary Winfield is probably from the pampered environs of Hartford. He’s not. He’s from the South Bronx.

I love it when people who decided to move to a city, volunteer unpaid time, raise their kids, etc. are treated like parasitic outsiders by people who got there 5 minutes earlier and have nothing better to do than make negative comments on websites.

posted by: Truth in reporting on December 3, 2011  3:22pm

@ Brian M. - Thank you for your comments.  You are right on all accounts. 

@Anon - You should visit areas before you talk about them.

@Staplesigners - Yes, Gary grew up in the South Bronx and moved here as a young adult, went to college here, bought a home. Lemar grew up in Rhode Island, went to college here, got married , had a couple kids, bought a home, etc…Then they each ran for office and won overwhelmingly.

posted by: Stephen Harris on December 4, 2011  11:00am


Don’t be so PC regarding my post. A good natured poke at East Haven isn’t anything new around here ;-)

posted by: Ora on December 4, 2011  10:34pm

I don’t think Lemar is going to fair well in East Haven for a number of reasons. This could very well be his last term. Time will tell. It will take alot of money to keep him in the political arena next election if I am right on this one.

posted by: Morris Cove Mom on December 7, 2011  10:27am

anon: I don’t know where your numbers are coming from, but I’d be interested to see what you cite.

I don’t know anyone but 1 family personally with a net worth of $200,000 or more, and they are an old white couple who are both 65+.

Most people I know, white or minority, have little or no savings, as they are uber-consumers.  It is not all the economy’s fault.  It is mostly themselves.  Save for medical bills and job loss, most of what you say seems to be your ranting, at best.  Please stick to the facts, or cite the numbers you post.