Richmond, Virginia—On Monday, the tensions were high at the Virginia Redistricting Commission meeting, as members of the commission accused each other of acting in bad faith resulting in a “fundamental lack of trust.” It seems as members of the commission have given up entirely on coming up with a compromise on state level maps, and will move forward with Congressional maps. As they do so, members of our community wonder if Republicans will ever be able to put their partisan politics aside and do what needs to be done for our communities.
From the very beginning, the 16 person committee’s “lack of trust” was on display with disagreements about who should serve on subcommittees that would help committee members with their workload. The doubt and distrust intensified with each political side hiring their own counsel, and ultimately overflowed when the Republican’s counsel refused to work with the Spatial Analysis Lab recommended by the Democratic commission members. Republican members of the Redistricting Commission insisted on politicizing the map-drawers, which led to each political party having their own. Additionally, Republicans repeatedly refuse to take into account communities of interest, instead preferring maps that protect incumbents and a partisan balance rather than truly representing the needs of hard-working Virginians.
“From the very beginning, Republicans refused to work collaboratively with Democratic members of the Redistricting Commission. By refusing to compromise, it is clear that Republican members of the Commission are more interested in protecting their political party than engaging in a truly nonpartisan fair districting process.” Vanessa Clinton, Press Secretary at Progress Virginia said. “The whole purpose of the Redistricting Commission is to take politics out of the community districting process. Keeping communities together and ensuring fair maps for all should be the priority of the commission, not protecting politicians or political parties.”
Virginia Redistricting Committee Stymied by ‘a fundamental lack of trust’ [VPM by Ben Paviour]
“Virginia’s first-ever redistricting committee missed its Sunday night deadline to draw state legislative maps. And the path forward seemed as murky as ever during a virtual meeting Monday as partisan tensions continued to flair.”
“I did talk to some people over the weekend on both sides,” Babichenko said. “And I would just say that it seemed as though there was just a fundamental lack of trust of each other’s motives.”
“The bipartisan group is still at odds over fundamental questions, including what makes a map politically fair and how race should be used in drawing maps. And they’re running out of time”
“The commission’s often tense debates became more personal after three Democratic citizen appointees walked out of a meeting on Friday over what they said was a lack of compromise from Republicans.”
“‘I think you need to either take politics out or put it in in a way that makes more sense,” Babichenko said. “But it did not work this way.’”