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State Officials to Hold Redistricting Hearings

Concord hearing slated for 7 p.m. on Oct. 27.

Six members of the special House Redistricting Committee held a press conference at the on Oct. 4, to announce a series of public hearings around the state about the issue during the month of October.

The committee will hold 10 hearings from Oct. 13 to Oct. 27, one meeting in each county, in an effort to get public input about redistricting for Congressional, Executive Council, County, state Senate and House districts seats.

A meeting will be held in Concord with members of the committee at 7 p.m. on Oct. 27, at the Merrimack County Administration Building, Basement Conference Room, 4 Court St.

“As we go through the process, we think it is important to get public input,” said state Rep. Paul Mirski, R-Enfield. “There’s nothing unusual about the process. It takes place after every Census. We expect to have an interesting October.”

After about five minutes, critics of the announcement peppered Mirski with questions about why other members of the committee were not involved in the planning process of the public hearings.

State Rep. Lucy Weber, D-Walpole, was upset that she was not able to attend half of the hearings since some nights, two hearings would held at the same time, in different parts of the state. She also asked why it was set up this way.

Mirski said the public hearing process was put together the same way 10 years ago and called the process "efficient."

Weber repeatedly asked who made the decision and Mirski said the legislative staff put together the schedule and the public hearings.

When asked if it was best to have redistricting done in the most efficient manner instead of the most inclusive or interactive manner, Mirski said, “It’s just keeping with the way we do business in New Hampshire.”

Others attending the press conference, including Zandra Rice Hawkins, the director of Granite State Progress, challenged comments by Mirski a week before about whether or not there should be public input about the process. She passed around a transcript from a committee hearing on Sept. 20, where Mirski reportedly stated that redistricting was a “complicated problem and quite frankly because it is a mathematical problem it doesn’t lend itself to the sort of give and take with the public that may have been the case in previous redistricting.”

Mirski said the issue was about numbers and whether or not the formula met the legal requirement for redistricting. He said the committee needed to understand how to apply the data to the Constitutionality of the process.

“Until we understand how we apply our formula with one man, one vote, there really isn’t any room for public input,” he said. “Now, there is.”

Hearing dates

Here is a list of the rest of the House Redistricting Committee hearings around New Hampshire for 2011. All hearings will be held at 7 p.m.:

  • Thursday, Oct. 13: Mountain View Community Nursing Home, Ossipee.
  • Thursday, Oct. 13: Nashua Public Library, Theatre Room, Nashua
  • Tuesday, Oct. 18: Keene Public Library Auditorium, Keene.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 18: Belknap Mill, 25 Beacon St. East, Laconia
  • Thursday, Oct. 20: UNH Cooperative Extension, 3855 Dartmouth College Highway, North Haverhill
  • Thursday, Oct. 20: Hilton Auditorium, Rockingham County, Nurshing Home, Brentwood
  • Tuesday, Oct. 25: Lancaster Town Hall, Lancester
  • Tuesday, Oct. 25: Strafford County Superior Court, Court Room 1, Dover
  • Thursday, Oct. 27: Probate Court, Third Floor, Sullivan County, Administrative Building, Newport

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