Richmond to begin redrawing city council lines

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -  It's time to redraw the voting lines in Richmond. Council members are about to take up redistricting.

Historically, this has never been an easy process for Richmond. And this is the first attempt in 70 years with an elected mayor in the mix. The decisions made over the next year, will affect the balance of power at City Hall for the next 10 years, specifically when it comes to filling the nine city council seats.

"This is the equivalent of for basketball, you know, deciding where the 3-point line is, deciding what the shot clock is. These are those rules that then affect everything else," said David Hicks. He's the mayor's Senior Policy Analyst and is charged with helping to redraw the districts.

He said this is the part of the political process that really does decide how your votes count.  "There have been incredible court battles right here in the City of Richmond over, this issue of power, this issue of who can I vote for and where."

Once such battle in the 70s, which lasted seven years, ended with rules that are still in place to this day.

"These districts have got to be equally populated," said John Moeser, a University of Richmond professor who has written several books on the subject.

He said, by law council members can redraw the lines to protect their seats, but whatever moves are made will be heavily scrutinized. "The Justice Department will look carefully, that those lines don't in any way are not drawn intentionally to weaken the African American community."

Hicks said race in many ways still plays a major role in the process. "We've never gone back and revisited whether or not it should be partisan, or what other factors should go into it. And that still is in many ways the elephant in the room when we have these discussions."

Richmond will hold several meetings on redistricting this month. Here's the information you need to attend:

The following Stage 1 Richmond City Council Public Information Meetings will be held to present and discuss the different redistricting criteria that Richmond City Council may choose to use to base their redistricting changes to Richmond Voter Districts:

Public Information Meetings to Present and Discuss Redistricting Criteria

The following Stage 1 Richmond City Council Public Information Meetings will be held to present and discuss legal redistricting requirements and the different criteria that Council may choose from to base redistricting changes to Richmond Voter Districts:

Friday, January 14, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Richmond Southside Social Services Center
4100 Hull Street; Richmond Virginia 23224
(Richmond's Southside)

Monday, January 17, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Richmond Police Department - Police Academy
1202 W. Graham Road; Richmond, Virginia 23220
(Richmond's Northside)

Tuesday, January 18, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Richmond Public Schools – Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School
1000 Mosby Street; Richmond, Virginia 23223                                                                        (Richmond's East End/Gateway)

Wed., January 19, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Richmond Public Schools - Lucille Murray Brown Middle School
6300 Jahnke Road; Richmond, Virginia 23225
(Southwest Richmond)

Thursday, January 20, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Richmond Public Schools – Thomas JeffersonHigh School
4100 West Grace Street; Richmond, Virginia 23230
(Richmond's West End)

Results of Richmond City Council Public Information Meetings presented to Council
Results of the Richmond City Council Public Information Meetings will be presented to Council during the following Public Council Informal Meeting:

Monday, January 24, 2011, 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Richmond City Council Informal Meeting
Richmond City Council Chambers
Richmond City Hall, 2nd Floor, 900 E. Broad Street,
Richmond, Virginia 23219

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