TERRITORIES By Jay DeBoer
The General Assembly has redrawn the state’s districts for the next 10 years.
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Every 10 years, following the U.S. Census, the Virginia General Assembly must draw new legislative districts both for itself and for the Commonwealth’s members of Congress. Redistricting for the General Assembly has been completed. Redistricting for Congressional seats began in early June, and is still under discussion. Virginia’s localities must also redistrict their boards of supervisors and town and city council districts and wards.
Redistricting is also customarily a time of great change in the General Assembly, even more so because Virginia is one of the few states that must accomplish redistricting in a year in which General Assembly elections are held. This leaves extremely tight deadlines for action, and compressed nomination processes and campaigns will present challenges for Virginia’s Realtors® as experienced incumbents who have been supportive of Realtor and property-owner issues will retire, or may find themselves running for seats based in new districts. At press time, the following members have announced their retirements: • Senator Patsy Ticer (D-Alexandria) • Senator Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington) • Senator William Wampler (R-Bristol) • Delegate Watkins Abbitt (I-Appomattox) • Delegate Clay Athey (R-Warren) • Delegate Bill Cleaveland (R-Roanoke) • Delegate Harvey Morgan (R-Gloucester) • Delegate Bud Phillips (D-Dickinson) • Delegate Albert Pollard (D-Lancaster) • Delegate Jim Shuler (D-Montgomery) • Senators Ralph Smith (R-Roanoke Co.) and Fred Quayle (R-Suﬀolk) have been “redistricted out” of their districts, with new Senate districts created in other parts of the Commonwealth. (Sen. Quayle has announced his retirement.) • Delegates Paula Miller (D-Norfolk) and Ward Armstrong (D-Henry) have been “redistricted out” of their districts. Delegate Armstrong will move and run in a diﬀerent district against Delegate Charles Poindexter (R-Franklin). VOLUME 18 ● ISSUE 4
Based on experience, it’s expected that other members will announce their retirements throughout the coming months, perhaps into August. To fill the vacancies, nomination fights are ongoing in several places, and primary elections will be held August 23 in up to 10 Senate districts and in eight House districts. The final slates of candidates for General Assembly elections in 2011 will not be known until that date, leaving a brief campaign season for the general election on November 8, 2011. For Congress, the plan presented by House of Delegates Republicans generally protects the 11 incumbent members of Congress, leaving each with a district similar in makeup to the one they currently represent. The plan presented by Democrats in the State Senate, however, creates a new African-American majority district in the 4th Congressional District, and reduces the African-American population of the 3rd Congressional District to transform that to a minority “influence district.” While Congressional redistricting is more fraught with the possibility for stalemate between the House and State Senate, those elections won’t be held until 2013, leaving time for compromise and exchange of plan elements. Historically, when incumbents seek Realtor® support, the results for Realtors® are excellent. With input from local associations, the RPAC of Virginia Trustees conduct a review of a member’s voting history, campaign statements made on topics of interest to Realtors®, committee and subcommittee membership and leadership, sponsorship of bills Realtors® support, and opposition to bills Realtors® oppose. In the end, we’re
Local options Local associations can always conduct candidate interviews — in fact, VAR encourages this whenever possible. However, in a year such as this one, it is essential that local associations engage in elections that affect their regions. VAR encourages local associations to begin now and to invite candidates to attend appropriate Realtor® events such as broker meetings, and to schedule interviews with local political-affairs committees. VAR will help arrange or provide materials or scripts for such events and meetings for local associations on request.
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confident that our endorsements reflect what’s best for the real estate industry. Campaign funding from state RPAC funds will then be available for those candidates who seem to be most supportive of Realtor® positions and goals. Local associations may also request that funding be provided for candidates in legislative races. In a year with a quick and intense campaign, this could be especially helpful for candidates — and has the eﬀect of multiplying Realtor eﬀectiveness and visibility.
(See the sidebar “Local options.”) It’s a busy but exciting time in politics, but there’s a lot at stake, too. However, with RPAC behind our issues and backing the candidates who support your profession, Realtors are poised to make a profound diﬀerence in the makeup of a changing House of Delegates and Senate membership. ● Jay DeBoer is VAR’s vice president for law and policy, and a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates.
Senator Ralph Smith (R-Roanoke Co.) and Del. Ward Armstrong (D-Henry) have been “redistricted out” of their districts.
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Delegate Paula Miller (D-Norfolk) and Sen. Fred Quayle (R-Suffolk) have been “redistricted out” of their districts; Sen. Quayle has announced his retirement.