Redistricting concerns

Published 5:08 pm Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Two concerns with upcoming Isle of Wight redistricting:

  1. Majority-minority district. Since Pinewood Heights has gone from 242 minority residents to almost zero (two residents) and since Hardy will need at least 300 more residents to meet minimum equality requirements, it is likely no five-district concept majority-minority district can be formed.

Will it be thought that we will no longer need to form a majority-minority district now that Sheriff Clark and Ms. Tynes have won one-on-one elections with white candidates? IW’s monument response was also favorable to minorities.

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However, if we form six or seven districts to form a majority-minority district, will we “pack”

Hardy minorities to the detriment of Smithfield minority candidates? Even if Hardy minorities were happy with the present basic Hardy District, though it were not a majority-minority district, we could not leave Hardy as it is.

The Hardy District 10 years ago was an example of racial gerrymandering protected by the “compelling state interest” clause of Bush vs. Vera, 1996. If Hardy ceases to be a majority-minority district it will be subject to the “compactness” provision of traditional redistricting criteria.

Hence, its percentage of minorities would drop even more. Is it a good idea to form a seven-supervisor board just to have a majority-minority district? Nearby Southampton and Gloucester have seven supervisors.

However, Henrico and Chesterfield have five supervisors with 200,000 and 300,000 people. Too many of our elections have not been seriously contested to feel more supervisors will be better.

  1. Suburban domination. Some citizens are concerned that in the future four supervisors are destined to come from the Route 10 / James River corridor. Suburban development mindlessly will be gerrymandering the rural interests of IW, whose comprehensive plan ironically is dedicated to rural preservation.

Should we not run the Windsor District east to west instead of its present south to north direction, giving rural interests always two votes and in some redistricting concepts three votes? This redistricting may require the Town of Windsor to be in the Carrsville District.


Thomas Finderson