Forget hand-knitted sweaters, gift cards or stale fruit-based confections: Two state senators whose districts include Arlington may have gotten the best holiday gifts of them all.
State Sens. Barbara Favola and Adam Ebbin have emerged from the redistricting sausage-making process with districts that they likely are pleased with:
• Favola sits in the midst of the new 40th Senate District, which will include 211,431 Arlington residents and nobody from outside the county’s confines.
• Ebbin can be found in the new 39th District, which like his old 30th District is centered on Alexandria (72 percent of the district’s total population) but includes the Baileys Crossroads and Lincolnia areas of Fairfax County (15 percent) and parts of South Arlington (12 percent).
For Ebbin, his new district is more or less in line with his old 30th District, and he said he was pleased that the fickle finger of redistricting fate had allowed him to keep a portion of Arlington.
“I’ve enjoyed the privilege of representing Arlingtonians since 2004, and am glad to have the opportunity to continue to represent many of them,” he told the Sun Gazette.
For Favola there are significant changes – the old 31st District, which she has occupied since 2012, started in North Arlington, then meandered westward through portions of McLean, Great Falls and even northeastern Loudoun County.
(A political joke that made the rounds was that the 31st District ultimately ended somewhere near Youngstown, Ohio. OK, nobody said it was a good political joke …)
An all-Arlington district is something that Favola, who served on the County Board before succeeding Mary Margaret Whipple in the Senate, will find less taxing – at least in terms of mileage she had to put on her car driving to meetings with constituents and fellow elected officials in multiple jurisdictions, as had been the case with her old district.
Having served on the Arlington County Board for 14 years before ascending to the Senate, and with a good chunk of her old 31st District incorporating parts of the county, “I understand the issues that Arlingtonians face and am honored to continue to represent them,” Favola told the Sun Gazette.
Both districts will be Democratic strongholds; Ebbin and Favola likely have them for as long as they want them, although each might have to look out to avoid challenges from their party’s left flank.
As expected, the redistricting package approved Dec. 28 by the Virginia Supreme Court, removed one of Arlington’s three Senate seats. State Sen. Janet Howell’s old 32nd District has been rejiggered and will no longer include any precincts in the county.
Over her long career, there have been times Howell’s old district has included Arlington, and times it has not. Given her seniority and power base in the General Assembly, Howell (a Reston resident) might still prove helpful to Arlington’s interests even if not directly representing its residents.
All 40 state Senate seats will be up for grabs in November 2023. Democrats currently hold a 21-19 majority.
Should for any reason the party lose one of those 21 seats in the coming two years, Republicans could take control of the body by using incoming Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears as power-broker. More likely, the two parties would govern jointly if there were a 20-20 split.