The General Assembly recently approved a redistricting plan after much negotiation, stress and, in some cases, strained relationships, as the lines encompassing all 40 Senate and 100 House of Delegates seats had to be redrawn. This process is required every 10 years under our Constitution as population shifts occur throughout the state.
Because the Democrats are in the majority in the Senate, that party dominated the outcome of the new Senate lines. Fortunately, the negotiations of the Republican members were aided by the veto of the initial plan by Governor McDonnell, which forced the Senate Democrats to negotiate with Republicans on how the new plan would look.
The new plan approved is better than the old. It apparently meets the legal objections raised by the Governor and may give the Republicans a fighting chance to regain a majority in the Senate. However, it is far from perfect, fair, or in preserving communities of interest. Unfortunately, 22 Democrat votes versus 18 Republican votes in the Senate always will decide the final outcome in such matters until the next election is held.
While the redistricting plan has been signed by the Governor, it must yet be approved by federal officials. There remains some uncertainly of how the process will be finalized, whether by review of the Justice Department or a three panel U.S. District Court. As a consequence, meeting the selected primary date of August 23rd will be extremely tight. If the approval process is delayed, there may well be chaos in knowing which voters will live in which districts and how candidates can conduct campaigns for nomination and election.
But let's look at a brief summary of the changes and how they impact the 12th Senate District.
The current 12th Senate District, which I now represent, consists of about 180,000 citizens in Henrico, a small precinct in the City of Richmond and the eastern half of Goochland (Manakin and Centerville magisterial districts). The new plan eliminates both the City and Goochland from the District. It also adjusts some precincts in Henrico and adds about 12,000 citizens in Hanover to the district.
I am disappointed with the overall plan and the statewide implications. While possible, it will be difficult to regain a Republican majority unless we minimize divisive and expensive party contests and focus all of our resources on challenging Democrats in the November elections.
The one bright spot in the 12th Senate District is the inclusion of about 12,000 new constituents in Hanover County.
Please let me know if you have any questions or need additional information regarding the redistricting plan and I will keep you informed of any progress. You can also click here for the link to the official redistricting plan from the Division of Legislative Services.
Finally, on a personal note, it has been an honor to serve you and every resident of the 12th Senatorial District as your voice in the Virginia Senate for almost 20 years. Thank you for your support and for your friendship, which are essential to my effective service.
We are fortunate in Virginia that we live in a commonwealth which is well governed and has among the lowest personal tax burdens in the nation, one of the best public school systems, among the lowest crime rates, great colleges and universities and a life style which is the envy of the nation. But we must continue to strive for constant improvement, particularly in creating more job opportunities, constantly evaluating spending and reducing unnecessary regulations and burdens on individuals and businesses.
Your comments and advice are always welcome and I invite you to contact me at any time. My website, www.walterstosch.com, provides contact information, status of legislation and other information of interest to our constituents.