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Letter to the Editor: Take Politics Out of Redistricting

— To the Editor:

Let's face it — Virginia's Delegate and Senatorial district maps are a gerrymandered disgrace. In my letter to the editor published Aug. 25, 2011, I pointed out that Sen. Linda "Toddy" Puller's district extends from the Beltway to Fredericksburg. Sen. Adam Ebbin's district extends in a narrow strip from the 14th Street Bridge to Pohick Bay. On Inauguration Day, with one Democratic senator attending the Presidential Inauguration, the Virginia Senate passed a redistricting bill that attempted to render Senatorial districts more equitable, at least in the opinion of Republicans. The Democrats are now crying foul and the recriminations threaten to disrupt the current legislative session.

In his opinion column in the Jan. 24, 2013 Gazette, Del. Scott Surovell described the Inauguration Day vote as a "dirty trick." However, as I pointed out in my Gazette letter of Sept. 8, 2011, although Delegate Surovell had publicly expressed his opposition to "the state's current redistricting system" ("My record is clear."), when the proposed 2011 highly gerrymandered redistricting came up for a vote (HB5005) in the House of Delegates, in fact, he voted in favor of the bill.

In 2011, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell constituted a bipartisan commission on redistricting. Their findings were ignored. The time has come for our elected representatives to fix a broken system. There is only one way: without regard to the minute data concerning precinct by precinct voting patterns, Delegate and Senatorial Districts must be reconstituted geographically in cohesive districts in which the citizens have some connection with one another. Senator Puller's district includes parts of Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford Counties. Senator Ebbin's district resembles a strip of bacon barely a mile wide for a lengthy stretch. http://www.vpap.org/elections/large_map/103?map_type=district This is unconscionable. There is utterly no reason, except political ones, why Senator Puller should not have her district entirely within Fairfax County. According to Ballotpedia, each senator represents about 200,000 citizens. http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Virginia_State_Senate With the county including just over 1,000,000 residents, there is no logical reason why the county should not be divided into 5 cohesive generally rectangular Senatorial Districts.

Politicians, put aside the politics and work together to fix a broken system. I frankly don't care if every Senator and Delegate loses their seat, if our districts are reconstituted to be cohesive, rectangular and devoid of political considerations. Get going!