Prince William County Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart blasted the Virginia Senate redistricting plan Monday, claiming that it dismembers the county and gives residents little voice in Richmond.
The proposed plan, which was largely drafted by Sen. George L. Barker ( D-Fairfax), splits Prince William into seven Senate districts, six of which would probably be held by residents outside of the county. Sen. Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William), one of four senators currently representing Prince William, would be the only senator to live in the county if he chooses to run for another term.
“Although I have disagreed with him in the past, I have never before questioned Sen. Barker’s motives. But this plan disenfranchises Prince William County and its citizens,” Stewart said. “With the way the districts are drawn, it is almost impossible for us to have another seat even though we have 400,000-plus residents and are growing quickly.”
Stewart said the county, along with Manassas and Manassas Park, deserve at least two-and-a-half Senate seats that are held by county residents as the once-distant suburb of the District continues to see explosive growth. Without proper representation in Richmond, he said, Prince William could lose state funding for schools, roads and other projects.
The 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 chances it can be retained by Democrats.
Stewart said he sent e-mails to all Prince William residents and called all Barker’s constituents Monday, asking them to call Barker’s office and protest the redistricting plan. He also has a call out to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), he said.
Stewart’s efforts could be too late, as the House and Senate redistricting plans are expected to receive final legislative approval late Monday. They will then head to the desk of the governor, who will come under pressure to amend both plans by government watchdog groups that believe both chambers gerrymandered the legislature for partisan reasons.
“I hope it’s not too late and that is why we are acting quickly,” Stewart said. “We want to let Barker and the Senate know we are not going to let this pass by unnoticed, and let everyone know what Barker is doing to Prince William County.”
— Staff writer Rosalind Helderman contributed to this report.