Goldman lawsuit prompting Albemarle to consider expedited redistricting schedule

The redistricting process in Albemarle County got underway last night with an information session on how it will work out. Guidelines require magisterial districts to be contained with Virginia’s legislative and Congressional lines. Under the new maps approved in late December by the Virginia Supreme Court, Albemarle falls entirely within the new 11th Senate District.

“Albemarle County falls into two different Virginia House of Delegates districts, the 54th which is basically the urban ring around the city of Charlottesville and then the 55th which is the majority of the county,” said Anthony Bessette, the Senior Assistant County Attorney.

There’s a slight glitch when it comes to the new House of Representatives maps.

“Almost all of Albemarle County is in the 5th District but there is a tiny sliver up [north] that is in the 7th District,” Bessette said. 

There’s even a Twitter account for the sliver.Small Sliver of Albemarle @SmallSliverI like to imagine the hand cursor is petting the small sliver Williamson @NeilSWilliamson@SmallSliver gets a shout out Virtual #SeatsAvailable 24th 202211 Likes

Since 2010, Albemarle’s population grew by 13,385 people according to the Census but the growth isn’t even.

“Rio and White Hall grew a great deal whereas on the other hand Scottsville did not grow at the same pace,” Bessette said. 

That means the Rio District and White Hall districts will need to be reduced in size and others will need to be expanded. In December, Supervisors approved preliminary guidelines that would keep their number at six. 

“The determination of whether to have six supervisors, five, four, seven, eight, etc, is a local decision that the Board of Supervisors gets to make,” Bessette said. 

View the slides for the presentation

Because of a federal lawsuit that may force an election for the House of Delegates this year, staff is now recommending an accelerated schedule in order to prepare for potential primaries in June. 

“Long story short on that is that timeline would see the process compressed further to begin on February 2 and end on March 23,” Bessette said. 

Attorney Paul Goldman has filed suit against the state Board of Elections arguing that the current districts for the House of Delegates are unconstitutional because they are out of date. Goldman filed a brief on January 18 in the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and attorneys for the Board of Elections have until January 28 to file additional materials. 

Public comment on redistricting will be taken at their February 2 meeting. The maps that have been developed so far were not shown to the public at the information session. Registrar Jake Washburne said three maps are being proposed. 

“We are planning to send those to the Board of Supervisors so they can be placed on the Board of Supervisors’ agenda for February 2,” Washburne said. 

 If you want to submit written comments:

Richard J. Washburne

General Registrar Albemarle County 

Department of Voter Registration and Elections 

1600 5th Street Charlottesville VA 22902

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the January 25, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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