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February 21, 2013

Pelham won't get its own House district

The House yesterday rejected a bill that aimed to give Pelham its own representative district.

House Bill 197 failed on a 305-49 vote.

Rep. Charlene Takesian, R-Pelham, introduced the bill to make the town a standalone House district, rather than share representation with neighboring Hudson.

Some town residents were upset with last year’s House redistricting, which left Pelham lumped with Hudson.

Hudson controls nine of the 11 seats in the House district.

Takesian, when she introduced the bill this winter, said Hudson-Pelham is the state’s largest House district with a population of about 40,000, similar to a Senate district.

“That’s crazy,” she said. “That is not what New Hampshire is about.”

Opponents expressed support for Pelham’s situation yesterday, but said a bill that would essentially provide for redistricting outside the normal political and legal process would be deemed unconstitutional.

The House Election Law Committee recommended the full House kill the bill, 13-4.

“The majority of the committee was sympathetic to the plight of the Pelham voters but did not feel we could constitutionally address it,” Rep. Kathleen Hoelzel, R-Raymond, told the House in a written report.

Rep. David Hess, R-Hooksett, speaking on the House floor, said he was sure all representatives sympathize with the situation in Pelham and would like to help.

“For both legal and practical reasons, we cannot,” Hess said.

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