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Redistricting Commission Holding Public Hearings

Commissioners sit behind a two-tired wooden dais. An American flag is in the background, and empty chairs are visible.
Jahd Khalil
Radio IQ

The Virginia Redistricting Commission is about to start drawing new political boundaries for the Commonwealth.

And they’re getting an earful.

Members of the newly created Redistricting Commission are about to start drawing political maps for the House of Delegates, the state Senate and the congressional districts. They're also hearing from voters across Virginia about what they want to happen.

During a recent public hearing in Northern Virginia, Chris DeRosa of Arlington told commissioners that Arlington has too many members of the General Assembly.  "I would like to propose that Arlington be represented by fewer delegates and fewer state senators," DeRose told the Commission. "Yes, that sounds strange, I know. But as much as I appreciate the service of all seven of our state legislators, that's four delegates and three senators, I think we would be better served with fewer legislators."

DeRosa says lawmakers would be more fully engaged with their constituents if they weren't spread out over multiple jurisdictions.

That's a view shared by Mike Clancey of Fairfax County, who says there's no reason for the 11th Congressional District to stretch from Tysons Corner in Fairfax County to Swans Creek in Prince William County.  "There's no community of interest between Tyson's Corner and Swans Creek in Prince William County. And we hear a lot of talk about voter suppression. These kinds of congressional districts are all about voter suppression, and they make the congressional elections totally meaningless."

Some have argued that localities benefit from having the largest possible delegation, stretching districts out across as many cities and counties as possible.

Members of the Redistricting Commission will get to make those decisions just as soon as they get Census data, which is expected in about three weeks.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.
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