In quiet contrast to the querulous, highly partisan efforts to redraw Virginia’s state and federal electoral maps, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors gave final approval Tuesday to a slightly redrawn map of its nine magisterial districts.
After a few last-minute tweaks to a handful of voting precincts, the board voted 9-0, with Supervisor Catherine M. Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) abstaining, to accept a redistricting plan approved by the 21-member Citizen Advisory Committee on 2011 Redistricting.
The new map reflects a traditional willingness among supervisors to try to play fair when redrawing electoral boundaries, but also the reality that Fairfax County’s population-- unlike those of its rapidly growing neighbors, Prince William and Loudoun--remained virtually unchanged during the past decade.
The new map rejiggers 10 precincts, including shifting seven into new supervisors’ districts, in an effort to equalize the size of each district in line with the 2010 census. The target was to have 120,192 residents in each district without breaking up neighborhoods and communities or aligning blocs of voters that would be favorable to incumbents. Although the citizens commission considered possibly creating a new 10th magisterial district to accommodate growth in the southern county, final census figures showed the numbers were just not big enough.
The adopted plan, labeled 9A4, moved only seven precincts into new districts: Bristow, which moves from Braddock to Mason District; Eagle and Monument, which move from Springfield to Braddock; Walnut Hill No. 2, which moves from Providence to Mason; Hunt, which moves from Mount Vernon to Springfield; Coates, which moves from Hunter Mill to Dranesville; and Colvin, which moves from Dranesville to Hunter Mill.
Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee) also urged adjustments to three more: dividing the Woodlawn precinct along Frye Road, so that Frye Road would become the eastern boundary of of the Woodlawn precinct and the area east of Frye Road would become a new precinct named Pinewood contained inside the Lee District; dividing the Willow Springs precinct along Stringfellow Road north of Lee Highway so that Stringfellow Road would become the western boundary of Willow Springs precinct and the eastern boundary of Powell precinct, and the area west of Stringfellow Road would become part of the Sully District; lopping off part of the Nottoway precinct so that the portion that lies within the town of Vienna would become part of Vienna’s No. 6 precinct and part of the Hunter Mill District.
The Board also approved these changes.
Under state law, the new magisterial borders take effect immediately. Federal civil rights law, however, requires that the approved plan meet Department of Justice approval. The plan is expected to be submitted later this week to Justice, which is supposed to render a decision within 60 days, about whether the redistricting meets the requirements of the 1965 Civil Rights Act.
Fairfax County’s exercise offered a striking contrast with the redistricting process underway in Richmond. Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) on Friday vetoed a plan adopted by the General Assembly, focusing blame on the Democratic-controlled Senate for chopping up too many cities and towns to give incumbents an advantage. But independent analysts said the map embraced by the Republican-dominated House was just as gerrymandered. Lawmakers are working with the governor in the hopes of finding a compromise.
“When you compare it to the state, there’s no comparison at all,” said Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully).