The Virginia Supreme Court approved new General Assembly House and Senate district maps that will remove the Town of Hurt from the House district containing Pittsylvania County, will put two delegates in the same district and will result in the loss of one of the two senators who have represented the county and Danville.
The new district boundaries will impact the 2023 election at the state level.
The Town of Hurt will be part of House District 51, which includes Campbell County and part of Bedford County. It was in House District 16, presided over by Del. Les Adams.
Adams will be in House District 48, which covers a portion of Pittsylvania and Henry counties and the City of Martinsburg.
"While I was glad to see that the final maps kept many communities intact, I was very disappointed to learn that the Town of Hurt will not remain with Pittsylvania County on the new House of Delegates map. I would not have allowed Hurt to be separated from the county’s two other towns and regret that the special masters did not correct that feature of their work following the public comment they received advising them to do so. Nevertheless, I believe Pittsylvania’s newly drawn foremost district, in combination with the Henry County communities it borders, represents a compact and contiguous political region that will allow for the consistent representation of its interests," said Adams, who also sat on the state's Redistricting Commission.
"The primary difficulty faced by southwest and Southside regions during this process was the decline in population reflected in the Census numbers that required generally larger districts to maintain equality of representation throughout the state, particularly in the House of Delegates. With respect to the district I have been privileged to represent, this was accomplished in the new map by a westward expansion of the basic shape already used to include more of the southwestern communities of Pittsylvania County and most of Henry County. As with all the new districts, it will be identified by a new number, 48," said Adams.
Sen. William M. Stanley Jr., who has presided over District 20 since 2011, will be shifted west into District 7 and out of Pittsylvania County. District 7 stretches westward to include Grayson and Wise counties.
Efforts to reach Stanley were unsuccessful.
Sen. Frank Ruff will be the lone senator representing Pittsylvania County and the City of Danville as part of the new Senate District 9.
"I'm delighted. I've enjoyed working with the people of Pittsylvania County," said Ruff.
Ruff said previous district boundaries had caused split precincts, that is, when the boundary lines for state and federal districts do not align with local election district lines.
Not only is that confusing for residents, it is also more expensive for the locality in terms of running an election, said Ruff.
Ruff, a Republican, said his new district is slightly less Republican, but overall hasn't changed the demographic that much.
"It really was not a factor for me," he said.
In addition to Pittsylvania County and Danville, to include the Town of Hurt, Senate District 9 includes Halifax, Charlotte, Mecklenburg, Lunenburg and Nottoway counties and most of Prince Edward County.
Del. Danny Marshall's seat will shift to House District 49, which includes the southeastern part of Pittsylvania County and Danville, as well as a portion of Halifax County. It overlaps the portion of Halifax presided over by Del. James Edmunds II, putting the two delegates in the same district.
Marshall said the map changes have been confusing to his constituents, as he will continue to represent those he has in the past for another two years. As for what he plans to do for the 2023 election — as the district overlaps with Edmunds — that's not currently on his radar, he said.
"I'm worried about January 2022 right now," said Marshall.
After the conclusion of the 2020 Census, states, including Virginia, were tasked with the job of redrawing voting district lines for federal, state and local offices.
Based on action by the Virginia General Assembly, Virginia residents voted in 2020 to amend the state's Constitution to allow the establishment of the Virginia Redistricting Committee.
It was established to develop maps for the state's legislative districts, as well as the U.S. House of Representatives.
Prior to this change, redistricting was part of the normal legislative process and districts were voted on by a majority of the Virginia House and Senate and the Governor, with the legislature drawing the maps, according to the Virginia Redistricting Commission.
Under the former process, the ruling majority had a larger say in the drawing of boundary lines, a process known as gerrymandering.
The Virginia Redistricting Commission was originally composed of eight citizens and eight legislators, to include Adams and Stanley. Three legislators resigned during the process.
The Virginia Supreme Court approved the new Senate and House maps on Dec. 28.
"I was honored to be selected as a member of the Commonwealth’s first Redistricting Commission and was glad I had the chance to represent the people of Southside Virginia throughout that process. During that time, we worked through several maps and I, along with others from rural areas, were able to see that the interests of our region were protected to the greatest extent possible," said Adams.