ROANOKE, Va. – The newly formed Virginia Redistricting Commission met for the first time Thursday night. Voters said yes to Amendment One last fall to create it, and the members have been seated.
It’s one of the first steps in a process many hope will solve gerrymandering for good in the Commonwealth. Although there is already a hurdle — Meg Lamb with Virginia Legislative Services said the census data is delayed this year.
“It’s not likely that we would be able to get our House of Delegates districts drawn in time for the 2021 elections, so we’ll get to spend a lot of time together this year and probably some of next,” Lamb said.
The bi-partisan committee is comprised of lawmakers and citizens. In this first meeting, they did introductions, set ground rules and named co-chairs.
They also hosted a public comment session, in which a handful of people spoke. That includes Suzanne Chambers of Amherst, who shared her concerns over the size of her districts.
“I vote with people who live on the West Virginia border when you put in our state senate District 22, I vote with people who live all the way to Short Pump,” Chambers said.
The commission takes over the job from state lawmakers as a whole, usually decided by the ruling party. They have a lot of work ahead of them, and those on the outside said they’ll be paying close attention.
“We believe that by keeping the commission accountable it will allow the redistricting process to create a more conclusive and inclusive Commonwealth where everyone can thrive,” Erin Corbett of the Virginia Civic Engagement Table said.