Virginia Governor forms redistricting panel
By Kyle Maichle
The Governor issued an Executive Order creating the commission along with naming the 11 members that would oversee the process. The commission consists of judges, government officials, and former officeholders. Supporters of the bipartisan commission hope that the new panel will put pressure on the General Assembly to put aside political motivations when considering any redistricting plan.
Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and former Governor L. Douglas Wilder support the concept of a bipartisan commission. In a written statement, Governor McDonnell said: "as Virginia redraws its legislative districts later this year, the process should take place in a manner that is fair and open...This Bipartisan Redistricting Commission will contribute to public involvement, openness, and fairness in the redistricting process."
However, the reaction was mixed from members of the split-controlled General Assembly. Republican House Speaker William J. Howell applauded the idea by saying: "we expect the independent commission will increase participation in the electoral process." However, Democratic State Senator Donald McEachin thought the commission came "too little, too late." McEachin further argued that the commission would have "no impact on the legislative process whatever."
The following persons were appointed to the Commission:
- Chairman Bob Holsworth-Founder of Virginia Tomorrow.
- Gary Baise, Esq.-Principal of Olsson Frank Weeda Law Firm.
- Hon. Viola Baskerville-Former member of the House of Delegates, Former Secretary of Administration.
- Hon. Barry DuVal-Former Mayor of Newport News, Former Secretary of Commerce and Trade.
- Jean Jensen-Former Secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections.
- Hon. Sam Johnston-Former Circuit Court Judge-Virginia's 24th Judicial Circuit.
- Hon. Walt Kelley-Former Federal District Judge, Eastern District of Virginia.
- Sean O'Brien-Executive Director of the Center for the Constitution at James Madison Montpelier.
- Cameron Quinn-Former Secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections.
- Ashley Taylor-Partner of Troutman Sanders Law Firm and Former U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner.
The commission will serve purely as an advisory group to the General Assembly. Maps and plans will be drawn up and submitted to the General Assembly, who then will use those products when drafting a redistricting bill to send to the governor for approval.