Redistricting will be difficult

Published 5:20 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

A comment about required Isle of Wight redistricting, which will be soon upcoming after the 2020 census:  The 2021 Hardy majority-minority district, if such is still possible, necessarily will be the smallest district in population due to not enough minorities being concentrated in the Hardy District. The 2021 Smithfield and Newport districts necessarily will be the largest districts in population to minimize area sprawl of the Windsor and Carrsville districts.

There are already complaints that the Carrsville District almost reaches Route 10 and the Windsor District extends to Canteberry Lane in Smithfield and Reynolds Road/New Towne Haven Lane in Carrollton. With the new census numbers our five-district concept with its majority-minority district will necessarily make the Carrsville District’s sprawl worse, extending to Route 10 in Hardy; the Windsor District’s sprawl could extend to the Ashby subdivision or Eagle Harbor on Route 17.

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To fix these inappropriate sprawl intrusions into distant communities, we could seek from the Justice Department exemption to the majority-minority district as Sheriff Clark’s and Denise Tynes’ elections make such exemption very plausible from the legal perspective. Hardy then could be much larger in population. Days Point could go from Smithfield back into Hardy. All of Grace Street and Riverview could return to Smithfield.

Or we could go to some combination of a seven-supervisor concept with single- and/or multi-member districts. In any case, we will have minority retrogression.

There is much more to think about with 2021 Isle of Wight redistricting than in the past. School board incumbency especially could be a problem. Large census blocks could further make preservation of community difficult. Multi-member districts could simplify IW redistricting for many decades. We should be preparing our minds now for this task. We will have only one chance to get it right.


Thomas Finderson