Va. Redistricting Upsets Dems, GOP in Prince William County - NBC4 Washington

Va. Redistricting Upsets Dems, GOP in Prince William County



    It's not often that Democrats and Republicans come together in agreement, but in Prince William County, both parties are protesting a new map for state senate districts. (Published Tuesday, April 12, 2011)

    Democrats and Republicans don't come together in agreement very often, but in Prince William County, Va., both parties are protesting a new map for State Senate districts.

    Some people are concerned the maps will make it difficult for a minority to win a Senate seat in the future.

    As one of the fastest growing areas of the country, Prince William County added 122,000 residents over the past decade. Perhaps more significant, it's become a majority minority community. People of color outnumber whites.

    Local leaders were hopeful newly drawn legislative maps would reward that growth with more influence and representation in Richmond. Instead, the redistricting plan just approved by the State Senate splits the county up among six Senate districts, compared to four now. Only one is entirely in Prince William County. The others stretch into neighboring counties, including some in rural areas.

    "This is a disgrace and an insult to the residents of Prince William County, regardless of your party," Republican Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart said Tuesday.

    Stewart was joined Tuesday by members of the NAACP and African-American leaders who share his concern that not only does the map weaken county representation but also makes it more difficult for people of color to be elected.

    "It actually effectively sprinkles us throughout six districts which dilutes the vote of the majority minority community, which means the likelihood that someone will sit there who looks closer like me is probably not very likely," said the Rev. Clyde Ellis, of Mt. Olive Baptist Church.

    State senators who helped redraw the map defend it by saying it improves the county's standing, creating two districts in which a majority of the voters are minorities.

    "Both of those two districts, the majority of the population are people of color, members of minority groups," said Sen. George Barker, D-Fairfax and Prince William counties.

    Stewart and others upset with the redistricting are urging Gov. Bob McDonnell to veto the map. If that fails, a lawsuit is an option, Stewart said.