Public hearing on redistricting set for Dec. 1

Supervisors split on number of districts

With around six weeks to go until the deadline for redistricting, the Board of Supervisors seems far from a consensus on the best way to redraw the county’s electoral map.

A public hearing has been set for Dec. 1 at 7 p.m., and as part of the formal notice for the hearing, they were tasked with choosing from one of five maps presented at earlier meetings.

This was not meant as a final decision, but as more of a placeholder or starting point for public discussion.

As their own discussion continued, it became clear that there are different ideas about what that final map should contain.

There are three basic options under discussion: staying at the current five districts but redrawing the current boundaries to balance the number of residents living in each district, increasing to six districts, or moving all the way to seven districts.

County staff has prepared five maps, with two options each for five and seven districts, and one for six districts.

Tony O’Brien (Rivanna), who sits on the redistricting committee, proposed one of the five-district maps. Holding at five, he argued, limited significant changes for residents, was unlikely to face any legal challenges, and still allowed for some flexibility.

“I like the idea of being supervisor for some rural areas and some urban areas,” said Mozell Booker (Fork Union). Her district would pick up some of the areas around Lake Monticello under a five-district plan. She said that part of her role as supervisor would be to bridge some of the divides between rural Fluvanna residents and those at the Lake.

Both Don Weaver (Cunningham) and Patricia Eager (Palmyra) voiced their support for six districts. Weaver pointed to a period in the early 2000s where the Lake had two supervisors in one district “and it worked well then,” he said. Eager said six districts gave the Lake area representation proportional to its population.

Chair Mike Sheridan (Cunningham) maintained his support for seven districts, saying none of the other scenarios would represent residents equally.

O’Brien’s motion for five districts failed by a vote of 3-2.

Eager than moved that they adopt the six-district map.

“Again, I think six is an enormous mistake,” said O’Brien. “It does not serve the residents of the county very well. If we’re not going to be at five, then I’m in favor of seven. But I think six is a terrible idea for the county and a terrible idea for the Lake.”

Booker agreed, referring back to the period before the 2010 redistricting when Rivanna had two supervisors. Not only were there deadlocks on the board, but other county residents had been angered by the Lake having two representatives.

The motion then passed 3-2.

Residents will still be able to speak on any of the five maps under consideration at the public hearing on Dec. 1. These maps can be viewed on the county website.


At the start of the meeting, supervisors passed an unusual resolution “to educate Fluvanna residents and the medical community on the risks of traveling to China for organ transplants in light of recent reports of state-sponsored organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience.”

Falun Gong is a religious movement established in China in 1992. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world follow the practice, which combines mediation, exercises, and philosophy.

The government of China sees Falun Gong as a threat and has arrested and has jailed hundreds of Chinese practitioners since the 1990s. By the early 2000s, there were multiple reports that some of these prisoners were being killed and harvested for their organs.

Several international investigations judge claims to be true, although the true number of victims is unknown.

Virginia-based Falun Gong practitioners Tiny Tang and Jinsun Bae have been visiting localities around Virginia to talk about the issue and encourage supervisors to pass these resolutions. They spoke in Fluvanna during public comments at the Oct. 20 meeting.

On Wednesday, supervisors voted 5-0 in favor of the resolution.




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