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ArlingtonPoliticsNew lines would dilute Arlington representation in legislature

New lines would dilute Arlington representation in legislature

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Arlington’s delegation to the General Assembly would be cut from seven to five under the latest plan to redraw state Senate and House of Delegates seats.

The special masters appointed by the Virginia Supreme Court to do the grunt work of reconfiguring the 100 House and 40 Senate seats based on 2020 federal census data have proposed including Arlington in three House districts (down from four) and two Senate districts (down from three).

The new districts, if approved, would supplant the current map, which puts Arlington in the 45th, 47th, 48th and 49th House Districts and the 30th, 31st and 32nd Senate Districts.

Under the proposed plan:

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• A new House District 1 would include portions of Arlington and Falls Church, which a census population of 84,957 (compared to a desired ideal of 86,314).

• A new District 2 would be entirely within Arlington, and would have a population of 85,400.

• A new District 3 would include much of South Arlington and a sliver of Alexandria, with a population of 86,887.

• A new Senate District 39 would include some of South Arlington along with Baileys Crossroads in Fairfax County, but would be centered on Alexandria. Its census population of 215,194 compares to an ideal population of 215,785.

• A new Senate District 40 would include the remainder of Arlington, as well as the city of Falls Church, with a population of 214,492.

Redistricting of the legislative seats was kicked to the Virginia Supreme Court after the Virginia Redistricting Commission failed to agree on maps.

Before this year, redistricting had been done by the legislature itself, but that changed with adoption of a constitutional amendment setting up the redistricting commission.

The Supreme Court appointed Sean Trende and Bernard Grofman as special masters for legislative as well as congressional seats. Public hearings on their proposals will be held online the afternoons of Dec. 15 and 17. Written comments will be accepted through Dec. 20 at 1 p.m.

(For information, see the Website at https://www.vacourts.gov/courts/scv/districting/redistricting_information.pdf.)

Whatever boundary lines eventually are drawn, they will come into effect with the next legislative elections, slated for 2023. It also is possible that new House of Delegates elections could be ordered by the courts to take place in 2022, since under state law the 2021 races were supposed to be held under new district lines. They were not, because federal census numbers were delayed, so the existing districts were used.

On the Senate side, the two Arlington districts would seem tailor-made for incumbents Barbara Favola, who would be likely to run in the 40th, and Adam Ebbin, who would likely run in the 39th. But Arlington would lose the services of powerful Sen. Janet Howell, a Reston resident whose current 32nd District snakes from there east to touch on Arlington.

(The proposed 40th Senate District looks similar to how the 31st did before it was redrawn after the 2010 census. Currently, Favola’s district starts in Arlington and runs west into McLean and Great Falls before tiptoeing into Loudoun County.)

On the House side, it appears Arlington would lose Del. Rip Sullivan, whose current 48th District is split among McLean (where he lives) and Arlington.

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