Area community members weigh in on redistricting
The Virginia Redistricting Commission next meets tomorrow after a week of public hearings in which participants were asked to weigh in on two different maps for both the 40 seats in the Virginia Senate as well as the 100 seat House of Delegates.
The 16-member commission was able to reach consensus between different versions produced by Democratic and Republican consultants. Yesterday, it was the Charlottesville area’s turn to weigh in on the different maps. Here’s Commissioner Sam Kumar of Alexandria, who chaired yesterday’s public hearing.
“The most recent House of Delegates maps are A7 and B6,” Kumar said. “The most recent Senate maps are A5 and B4.”
Under the A7 Statewide map for the House of Delega tes drawn by the Republican consultant, Albemarle County is split into three legislative districts. Northern Albemarle would be in the 74th District along with all of Greene and some of Orange County. Charlottesville would be in the 75th District along with much of Ivy in Albemarle County. Southern Albemarle would be in the 76th District along with all of Amherst and Nelson counties. (A7 map comment page)
Under the B6 Statewide Map for the House of Delegates drawn by the Democratic consultant, Albemarle is in two districts. Charlottesville would be in the 80th district with central-eastern Albemarle. All of Albemarle County would be in the 81st District along with a portion of eastern Augusta County. (B6 map comment page)
Former Charlottesville Mayor Kay Slaughter went first during the public comment period to object to how Albemarle County was treated under both plans.
“The Republican plan divides it into three districts,” Slaughter said. “The Democratic plan makes it one district which crosses the Blue Ridge to August County, and while Augusta County and Albemarle County may share these beautiful mountains they are not a community of interest. Neither does Albemarle share interest with the Lynchburg area an hour to the south.”
Slaughter urged the Commission to redraw the maps to include parts of Nelson, Fluvanna, or Greene because they are all are part of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission.
Currently, Albemarle’s House delegation is split into four legislative districts. Albemarle County resident Michael Rodemeyer asked for a less fractured map.
“My plea to you is pretty simple,” Rodemeyer said. “Keep Albemarle County together. Taken together, Albemarle County and Charlottesville almost make up enough of population for two House of Delegate districts. We only need about another 12,000 to 13,000 people for there to be a complete district.”
Tim Hickey ran as a Democrat in the 59th district in 2019. He urged the Commission to support a major theme in map B6.
“Map B6 keeps Albemarle County as unified as possible by keeping us into two districts,” Hickey said. “Not three, not four, but two, and that needs to be non-negotiable.”
Hickey suggested that Albemarle be included with Nelson rather than Augusta, but that Amherst has nothing to do with either despite the presence of U.S. 29.
“I have spent a lot of time on that stretch of road,” Hickey said. “People in Amherst largely use it to go back and forth to Lynchburg and people in Nelson largely use it to go back and forth to Charlottesville. When I was campaigning, people south of Nelson County, the voters, would routinely ask me if I were in the right place. They would say ‘we’re not in the same district as people in southern Albemarle.”
Edgar Lara of the group Sin Barreras said he could see a Congressional district that included Albemarle and Augusta County. His family has lived in the Waynesboro era for over twenty years and he lives in Albemarle.
“My community is primarily one of immigrants or children of immigrants with us speaking Spanish as our first language and working the same types of jobs, we have a similar culture and experience many of the same challenges in our communities of Virginia,” Lara said.
Pete Costigan of Ruckersville also said that Augusta and Albemarle don’t share enough interests to be in the same district.
“Greene County residents have more common interest with Albemarle County than they do with either Page or Rockingham,” Costigan said. “Specifically, Greene County residents largely drive to Albemarle for shopping or medical care.”
Under the A5 statewide map for the Senate drawn by the Republican consultant, Albemarle and Charlottesville would be within the 31st District along with Nelson, Fluvanna, and Buckingham counties. (A5 Senate map)
The B4 statewide map drawn by the Democratic consultant is similar, but the 31st District would include Greene rather than Nelson. (B4 Senate map)
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