Word is slow to reach the 11 clerks in Kennebec County whose municipalities’ congressional districts were changed Tuesday by the Legislature.

As part of reapportionment, before the 2012 election, 11 communities will move from the 1st Congressional District to the 2nd Congressional District: Sidney, Gardiner, West Gardiner, Belgrade, Rome, Vienna, Mount Vernon, Monmouth, Randolph, Unity Township and Albion.

Sidney Town Clerk Shawna Foye said she hadn’t been notified about any change legislators made to reflect population shifts.

Neither has Deirdre Berglund, city clerk of Gardiner.

“This is all new to me,” Berglund said. “I was at a conference the past two days, it was a secretary of state conference and it didn’t even come up.”

Berglund said it won’t make much of a difference in the way she does business. It would if the town were split into different districts, she said.

“I do not expect to see any changes in the election or any other day-to-day process,” she said. “The ballots will be printed by the secretary of state and the results will be reported the same way, no matter which district we are in.”

The state has two congressional districts. The 1st is made up communities in southern Maine around Portland; the 2nd encompasses the rest of Maine and is one of the largest congressional districts, area-wise, on the East Coast.

The state’s population has shifted over the last several decades to the south, and 2010 census numbers continued that trend.

In Maine, 668,515 people live in the current 1st District while 659,848 live in the 2nd District. The Census — which counts the population mandated by the United States Constitution every 10 years — is used to allocate congressional seats, electoral votes and government funding.

In order to make the populations as equal as possible, the line separating the two districts in Maine needed to be moved. The move takes place before the 2012 election.

Belgrade Town Clerk Cheryl Cook said the state provides municipalities with the ballots for state referendums, and so her town will just be in a different category.

“I don’t think most people even know what district they’re in,” Monmouth Town Manager Curtis Lunt said. “It’s just a different congressman.

“We’ve been represented by (U.S. Rep. Chellie) Pingree (D-1st District), for several years now, and people will now have to vote for (Democratic Rep. Mike) Michaud. They’re temporary incumbents. It’s just a political thing, not an administrative change for us. It doesn’t affect the ballot or anything else, just the name on the ballot. It doesn’t change any of the other races.”

Richard Grimshaw, 63, of Randolph, a semi-retired safety consultant for Central Maine Power Company, said a change in his congressional districts really won’t make a difference to him — what with all that’s going on with a broken economy and political intransigence.

“Whenever politicians get involved, whatever it is, becomes burdensome for the common, everyday guy,” Grimshaw said. “What I say, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. And this wasn’t broke.”

Many of the shoppers on the streets of downtown Gardiner recently had little or no knowledge of the change.

Many said it didn’t matter to them.

Joyce St. And of Chelsea said she had no idea what it is about. No one she knows has talked about it.

Peggy Mascher, a registered nurse from Litchfield on her way into the Gardiner Public Library, said she was extremely happy that the Democrats and Republicans were able to compromise on something without “all the screaming and yelling.”

“I think it’s enormously hopeful that they managed to get beyond this,” Mascher said.

Mascher became emotional and took a minute to contain herself.

With tears rolling down her cheeks, she said, “There’s a general lack of civility in the nation right now. It’s horrible. With demonstrations on Wall Street and our government being run by corporations, I don’t know where we’re going. I don’t know if people care. People vote from their pocketbooks and anger.”

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]


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