The Virginia Redistricting Commission turned to drafting a House of Delegates map Wednesday, after working on a Senate map Monday. The commission compared Republican and Democratic proposals in southwest Virginia, Southside, and part of Hampton Roads. As with the first look at Senate maps a week ago, the commissioners spent a significant time in southwest Virginia, and weren’t able to keep up with a schedule that would have allowed them to consider all of Hampton Roads or Eastern Virginia Wednesday.
Commissioners have meetings scheduled Friday and Saturday to finish the draft maps ahead of a series of public hearings scheduled for next week.
“I think we got a lot done today,” Co-chair Mackenzie Babichenko (R) said.
“Already, we have shifted what we’ve hoped to accomplish today onto Friday, and Friday’s going to be a heavy lift because we have central and northern Virginia in part that we already know are complex,” Co-chair Greta Harris (D) said.
Commissioners grappled with fairness between Republican and Democratic proposals; how to keep cities, counties, and communities of interest intact; incumbent pairing; and creation of majority-minority districts. Commissioners were reluctant to set anything in stone, since decisions made in one region may force the commission to make compromises in other regions.
The commission also heard an update from the communications team. The commission is relying on public comment to evaluate map proposals and highlight communities of interest that need to stay intact. Without those comments the commissioners are relying on their own and staff’s experience to appropriately consider local communities, and areas near commissioner’s homes are receiving extra-detailed consideration. But the commission’s social media has fairly limited reach and hasn’t reached all communities. A key priority is to make sure the public is well informed of next week’s hearings.
Speaking for the communications team, Mindy Carlin presented an update on ad spending, which is targeted at news, entertainment, gaming, and cooking sites.
Delegate Marcus Simon (D-Fairfax) asked, “I understand local news, and entertainment and gaming, I guess. Why did we pick cooking site as a place to place our ads?”
Carlin said, “Basically, the vendor that’s doing our buys for us selected the sites that best align with our demographics, and so with the demographic of BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, People of Color] and rural, that was among the types of sites […] that those demographics are viewing frequently.”
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