Just round one of ending gerrymandering

The 2019 Virginia General Assembly has taken the first, crucial step toward reforming how Virginia draws its legislative districts. The passage of a constitutional amendment to establish a redistricting commission was a major milestone.

This commission will include eight legislators and, for the first time, eight citizens—equally balanced between the two major parties. The amendment also requires full transparency of meetings and data, and requires a supermajority of commissioners voting for final passage of legislative district maps.

Del. Mark Cole, 88th District, chairman of the House Privileges and Elections Committee, deserves credit for responding to his constituents and sponsoring legislation that led to the creation of this commission. For the first time, significant redistricting reform legislation moved forward from that committee. A compromise with the Senate was reached in the conference committee, which he helped lead.

Thanks also to our Virginia delegates and senators who represent Fredericksburg, Stafford and Spotsylvania counties. All voted for the conference report, which passed the Virginia Senate 40-0 and the Virginia House 83-15.

This is only the first step, however. To be in effect for redistricting in 2021, the same resolution must pass the 2020 Virginia General Assembly and be approved by voters in November. For true reform, implementing legislation must also be passed that includes criteria that will protect our communities, specifically prohibit political gerrymandering, and create rules that will ensure broad citizen participation.

My vote in 2019 will be for a delegate and senator who will support fully ending gerrymandering. It is the right thing to do for Virginia!

Fran Larkins