Prince William County Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart took another jab at the Virginia senate’s redistricting map Tuesday, this time backed by NAACP officials.
Stewart, along with Prince William NAACP officials, said the map approved by the General Assembly on Monday dismembers the county, diluting the voice of minority residents, who make up the majority of Prince William, Stewart said.
“This plan effectively disenfranchises Prince William County, which is now a majority-minority community,” NAACP President Ralph Smith said. “We are concerned the minority voice will be lost in Richmond.”
The redistricting plan, which is headed to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) for approval, splits Prince William into six senate districts. Stewart said the redistricting plan leaves only one senate seat in Prince William, while the rest are split with Loudoun, Fauquier, Fairfax and Westmoreland counties. The only senator Prince William would have, Stewart said, is Sen. Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William), one of four senators currently representing the county.
“I stand by Corey and this is a bipartisan issue,” Prince William Supervisor John D. Jenkins (D-Neabsco) said at Stewart’s press conference Tuesday. “We can’t afford to be split six ways.”
Sen. George L Barker (D- Fairfax), who helped draft the plan, said Prince William has two senate seats that are largely in the county. Although Barker doesn’t live in Prince William, he said he still works “very hard” to represent Prince William in Richmond.
Stewart said the county, with a population of just over 400,000, deserves at least two seats as it continues to grow. Without proper representation in Richmond, he said, Prince William could lose state funding for schools, roads and other projects.
“We are the melting part of America and we have unique problems that only people in Prince William are aware of,” said Eugene Reeves, pastor of New Life Ministries. “We want the governor to know this [plan] is not fair.”
Stewart said he would like to see the 28th district, which is largely Westmoreland, out of Prince William. The newly-drawn 22nd seat, which Stewart said is largely in Loudoun, should be shifted to include more of Prince William, Stewart said.
Senate Democrats said their plan complies with state and federal law. They have acknowledged that it was drawn in part to improve the political performance of some districts for their party. Barker’s Prince William seat, for instance, would extend north into Fairfax and then into the city of Alexandria, shoring up the district’s political odds.
Sen Don McEachin (D-Henrico) said nobody from Prince William approached the senate with a plan to draw a new majority-minority district in the county.
“I wish he’d called,” McEachin said. “Because it would have been nice to understand what he’s talking about.”