With it being a Census year, legislative bodies will be redistricted next year based on the latest Census information. The House of Delegates process has begun, with Public Hearings being held around the Commonwealth. On Wednesday evening the Hampton Roads Public Hearing was held, at the Roper Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Norfolk.
A few common themes came out of the comments. First, citizens want legislative district lines to respect city lines as much as possible. South Hampton Roads has about a half-dozen districts that cover three jurisdictions. Second, districts should be compact and contiguous. Third, redistricting shouldn't be aimed at incumbent protection.
Some speakers addressed the possibility of a bipartisan or nonpartisan commission to draw the redistricting plans. Personally, I believe the flaw in the logic is the assumption that moving the process to a commission would somehow take the politics out of the process. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.
Chris Jones stated that the Norfolk Hearing drew about twice as many people as the one in Roanoke. The intriguing part is that chairs for the public were put on the stage with the Delegates and Staff. The majority of the public sat there, though the seats were quite uncomfortable.