City could break even with redistricting plan

City could break even with redistricting plan

Likely losing one delegate, yet possibly gaining a senator in redistricting plans under debate in Richmond, Alexandria isnt yielding any clout in the General Assembly, officials say. 

Under the redistricting map released by House Republicans, delegates David Englin (D-45) and Charniele Herring (D-46) would share the city, pushing out Del. Adam Ebbin (D-49).

Englin, a Del Ray resident, would represent a small portion of Arlington and Fairfax counties along with the citys entire east side. Herring would have the West End, but cede territory in Fairfax County.

Though that means Alexandria will lose a House delegate, Mayor Bill Euille is pleased the city retains two longstanding representatives.  

It is what it is: the state does redistricting. Theyre already two of our delegates and its not like theyre assigning someone else to us, he said. As long as [Alexandrias] districts are still being represented by our current elected delegates, I just dont see how it does any harm to us in the city.

Were legislators preparing to carve out a section of the city for a new seat or lumping them in with a neighboring district that would be a cause for concern, Euille said. 

Englin agreed, pointing to the Senates possible plans for Alexandria, which carves the city into three districts. Alexandria currently falls into two, represented by retiring Sen. Patsy Ticer (D-30) and Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-35).
Actually, arguably the citys clout is going to be increased because of the Senate, Englin said. Alexandria will now have three senators, the chances are all three are going to be Democrats and Democrats hold the majority in the city, which increases the citys clout overall. I think that as two effective, progressive leaders, [Herring and I] both have demonstrated our ability to get things done in Richmond, regardless of the party in power.

That doesnt mean Englin agrees with the process. In Virginia, the Democrat-controlled Senate redrew the lines for their body while the Republican-controlled House did likewise. The maps are the best Englin could have hoped for considering the circumstances, he said. 

At the end of the day, since it is still a partisan process and we have not succeed at nonpartisan or bipartisan redistricting reform, the majority party gets to draw the lines and that issue was settled on Election Day, he said. Given that, they could have done any number of things and they were relatively gentle with these maps.

Still, protestors have descended upon Richmond in recent days, calling on legislators to forsake partisan redistricting. Critics blasted both parties for beginning the process without considering maps drawn by a bipartisan panel appointed by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) or those submitted by state college students.

As long as legislators are redrawing their districts, its going to skew in favor of incumbents, Englin said, echoing one critique of the proposals.

But Herring believes challengers have just as much of a shot at unseating an incumbent under the new maps as any other year.     

I think its an open [playing field], absolutely, she said. I dont think it necessarily favors incumbents.

Herring otherwise declined to second-guess the new maps, saying she could only speak to her district and her constituents. Though she may have a smaller district, its concentrated in Alexandria, which means fewer possible cases of conflicting interests, she said. 

Legislators in both chambers could wrap up deliberations on the new lines as early as this week.